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Kaufusi, Latrell out, Munster, Haas cleared, Ponga doubt, Fifita, Wighton in mix

Felise Kaufusi will not take part in the State of Origin series finale, Maroons coach Billy Slater revealed on Sunday.

Slater said on The Footy Show that the veteran forward will not return in time after the Storm granted him time off to go to the United States to be with his father, Taniela, who has been hospitalised in Los Angeles.

Raiders prop Corey Horsburgh, Brisbane front-rower Tom Flegler and Titans duo Beau Fermor and David Fifita, after a successful return from a knee injury in Round 16 on Friday in Newcastle, are candidates to bolster Queensland’s badly beaten pack from the Optus Stadium thumping.

Dragons forward Jaydn Su’A is another option after an ankle injury made him unavailable for the first two games but Cowboys lock Reuben Cotter is virtually no chance of being available due to his hamstring problem.

Latrell Mitchell is also out of Origin III calculations after the NSW centre candidate said he would not be ready after only just making his return from a long-term hamstring injury.

“I think I’m going to shut down them headlines now. I’m going to pull myself out and worry about Souths,” Mitchell told Fox League after making his return to the NRL in the 30-12 win over Parramatta.

Latrell Mitchell

(Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

“They’ve got a real good team there, NSW, and good luck to them and (Matt) Burton in the centres. Give (Stephen) Crichton a go too, let him bleed in. I really want to focus on South Sydney and getting myself right for the backend of the season.”

Cameron Munster is likely to be right for Queensland’s State of Origin series decider despite hurting his shoulder in their heavy Perth defeat.

The Maroons five-eighth had scans on his left shoulder after a collision early in the second half of their 44-12 loss at Optus Stadium rendered him a “passenger”. He sat out Melbourne’s loss to Manly on Thursday night but the scans revealed his shoulder injury was AC joint irritation.

“Thankfully it’s not as bad as first anticipated on Sunday night after the game where there were reports of a grade-three AC joint injury, that’s definitely not the case,” Storm general manager Frank Ponissi said.

Cam Munster for Queensland

(Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

Game three is in Brisbane on July 13. The Blues are set to name their 22-man squad on Sunday night after this week’s Round 16 with the Maroons to do likewise on Monday morning.

The Blues could welcome back Jack Wighton after he was unavailable for Origin II with COVID-19, which could mean centre Stephen Crichton or bench utility Siosifa Talakai could make way.

Blues prop Payne Haas has a high ankle sprain but the Brisbane star, who needed pain-killing injections in each shoulder to play in Origin II, was cleared by the Broncos for their clash with the Cowboys in Townsville on Saturday night.

Maroons fullback Kalyn Ponga suffered a head knock in the second half and was ruled out for Newcastle in Round 16 on Friday when the Knights host the Titans.

Ponga has had a couple of concussions this season so he may also be forced to rest for a few weeks.

If Munster isn’t fit to play it could pave the way for North Queensland playmaker Tom Dearden‘s debut, or the versatile Ben Hunt could be shifted from hooker to partner Daly Cherry-Evans in the halves.

Reece Walsh would be the frontrunner to replace Ponga if the Maroons need to find a new fullback.

Broncos veteran Corey Oates and Cowboys speedster Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow are a chance to come onto a wing for Queensland after rookie duo Murray Taulagi and Selwyn Cobbo struggled in Origin II.

David Fifita

David Fifita. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

NSW likely team

  1. James Tedesco
  2. Brian To’o
  3. Matt Burton
  4. Jack Wighton/Stephen Crichton
  5. Daniel Tupou
  6. Jarome Luai
  7. Nathan Cleary
  8. Payne Haas
  9. Api Koroisau
  10. Jake Trbojevic
  11. Cameron Murray
  12. Liam Martin
  13. Isaah Yeo
  14. Damien Cook
  15. Angus Crichton
  16. Junior Paulo
  17. Wighton/Crichton
  18. Siosifa Talakai
  19. Nicho Hynes
  20. Jordan McLean
  21. Victor Radley
  22. Joseph Suaalii

Queensland likely team

  1. Kalyn Ponga/Reece Walsh
  2. Selwyn Cobbo
  3. Valentine Holmes
  4. Dane Gagai
  5. Corey Oates
  6. Cameron Munster/Ben Hunt
  7. Daly Cherry-Evans
  8. Lindsay Collins
  9. Ben Hunt/Harry Grant
  10. Josh Papalii
  11. Kurt Capewell
  12. Jai Arrow
  13. Tino Fa’asuamaleaui
  14. Harry Grant/Tom Dearden
  15. Jaydn Su’A
  16. Patrick Carrigan
  17. Jeremiah Nanai
  18. Dearden/Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow
  19. Tabuai-Fidow/Walsh
  20. Tom Flegler
  21. Corey Horsburgh
  22. Beau Fermor

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