Gold Coast co-captain Jamal Fogarty has been linked with a move to Canberra despite extending his contract with the Titans in August.
Queensland forward David Fifita is set to miss State of Origin game 3 under suspension but Valentine Holmes is free to play despite his tackle that left fellow Maroons star Kayln Ponga nursing a neck problem.
Cited on Sunday, Fifita will need to successfully contest a charge of dangerous contact on Canberra half Sam Williams at a judiciary hearing if he’s to play when Queensland attempt to avoid an embarrassing series whitewash by NSW on July 14.
He was sinbinned for his tackle on Williams but otherwise excelled in Gold Coast’s 44-6 thrashing of Canberra on Saturday.
Queensland coach Paul Green will be relieved after Holmes escaped with a fine after being reported then charged with dangerous contact on Ponga as Newcastle thrashed his North Queensland side 38-0.
Ponga hurt his neck after folding awkwardly in a Holmes’ tackle but insisted he would be fit to play his first game of the Origin series.
He’s expected to be picked to return at fullback, pushing Holmes to the wing.
After missing the past six weeks through injury, Ponga scored two tries and set up two more for the Knights, before leaving the field after the tackle.
“It’s (neck) pretty stiff at the moment, but it’s fine. Yeah, I’ll be sweet (for Queensland). It doesn’t feel like there’s anything too wrong,” Ponga said.
The 23-year-old was relieved to get through most of the game.
“I didn’t feel the groin at all, which I’m really pleased about,” he said.
“I’m pretty happy with how I felt out there in terms of my body and fitness and everything.”
Ponga’s return would be an enormous boost for a Queensland side that has lacked speed and energy in attack throughout their blowout losses in their opening two defeats.
Cowboys flyer Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow has been tossed up as a rookie bolter in the centres and would add some serious speed to Green’s deflated squad.
But the biggest boost would be the inclusion of Ponga, who has played just three of a possible 10 games since making his debut in game two of the 2018 series.
“Through injury, I’ve been in and out the last three years. That’s footy though; that’s the way the cookie crumbles,” Ponga said.
The league is yet to decide where Origin 3 will be played, with COVID-19 restrictions certain to result in the game shifting from Stadium Australia at Sydney Olympic Park.
Ponga’s home ground of McDonald Jones Stadium in Newcastle is poised to claim hosting rights.
“I reckon Newcastle will love it. It’d be awesome if it was here. Hopefully, it’s here,” he said.
“It’d be a bit weird. A lot of people go for me but they don’t go for Queensland.”