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

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 on Monday after a collision early in the second half of their 44-12 loss at Optus Stadium rendered him a “passenger”.

The good news is he is set to suit up for the series decider after 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. “He’s more unlikely than likely but we certainly haven’t ruled him out. He’s a chance of playing on Thursday night [for the Storm] but if he doesn’t play he’ll certainly be right for the next game.”

Maroons forward Felise Kaufusi will not play for the Storm after he was granted time off to go to the United States to be with his father, Taniela, who has been hospitalised in Los Angeles. It is not known whether he will be back in time for the series decider.

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 or Latrell Mitchell after they were both unavailable for Origin II with COVID-19, which could mean centre Stephen Crichton or bench utility Siosifa Talakai could make way.

Mitchell posted a reply on Instagram on Monday to a post speculating about the team by saying Burton “can have the number 4” jersey for Origin III so he can slot back into his usual No.3 spot.

Asked if Mitchell could be used as a bench option for the decider, cocach Brad Fittler refused to rule that out.

“I wouldn’t be opposed to anything,” he told SEN on Wednesday. “One thing I will do over the next couple of days is listen.

“There’s a lot of people out there smarter than I am, so I like to listen, and I get a good chance, they’re all playing this weekend.”

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, has been cleared by the Broncos for their trip to take on the Cowboys in Townsville on Saturday night.

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

Nathan Cleary was put on report and later cleared for the crunching tackle which floored Ponga, which drew derision from Immortal Andrew Johns on Nine commentary: “What for? For tackling him too hard.”

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

“He copped a bit of a shot there to the head when he was hitting the ground,” Slater said. “So he staggered on the field so we made sure he came straight off and made sure was OK.

“He obviously missed out on the game before Canberra with a head knock so we’ve got to make sure he’s OK. In the sheds he seemed fine but the doctor will assess him.”

Cam Munster for Queensland

(Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

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)

Raiders prop Corey Horsburgh, Brisbane front-rower Tom Flegler and Titans star David Fifita, if he can make a successful return from a knee injury in Round 16 this Friday in Newcastle, are also candidates to bolster Queensland’s badly beaten pack from the Optus Stadium thumping.

Gold Coast have announced Fifita will play via the bench against the Knights so he could loom as an impact option for Slater as an interchange weapon.

Cowboys lock Reuben Cotter is at long odds to be available due to his hamstring problem.

NSW likely team

  1. James Tedesco
  2. Brian To’o
  3. Matt Burton
  4. Jack Wighton/Stephen Crichton/Latrell Mitchell
  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. Siosifa Talakai
  18. Nicho Hynes
  19. Wighton/Crichton/Mitchell
  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. Felise Kaufusi
  13. Tino Fa’asuamaleaui
  14. Harry Grant/Tom Dearden
  15. Jai Arrow
  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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