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Munster, Haas, Ponga doubtful for series decider, Dearden, Walsh, Wighton in mix




Cameron Munster could miss Queensland’s State of Origin series decider after hurting his shoulder in their heavy Perth defeat.

The Maroons five-eighth will have 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”.

Game three is in Brisbane on July 13, Munster was unable to say with any confidence that he’ll be fit to play in what looms as a monster setback for coach Billy Slater.

“I was a bit of a passenger out there (after the injury),” Munster said. “My body’s not holding up as good as I’d like it to be, but fingers crossed I can get myself right. I’ll get a scan tomorrow and we’ll go from there.”

He is at long odds to be available for Melbourne when the NRL resumes on Friday night with the Storm up against Manly at Brookvale.

Blues prop Payne Haas has a suspected high ankle sprain and the Brisbane star, who needed pain-killing injections in each shoulder to play in Origin II, is under a cloud heading into the Broncos’ trip to take on the Cowboys in Townsville on Saturday night.

He could also be unable to suit up for the series decider.

Maroons fullback Kalyn Ponga suffered a head knock in the second half and is unlikely to back up for Newcastle in Round 16 on Friday when the Knights host the Titans.

Nathan Cleary was put on report for the crunching tackle which floored Ponga, which drew derision from Immortal Andrew Johns on Nine commentray: “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,” Queensland coach Billy 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.”

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 Maroens need to find a new fullback while Haas’ potential absence could open the door for a recall for Reagan Campbell-Gillard or Cowboys prop Jordan McLean to make his Origin debut.

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

Cameron Murray suffered a head cut early in the match but should be right to back up for Souths on Saturday against Parramatta.

Cam Munster for Queensland

(Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

Munster was man-of-the-match in Sydney’s 16-10 win but was nullified by a dominant NSW pack that allowed Blues halfback Nathan Cleary to thrive.

Queensland had led 12-8 late in the first half before a string of penalties led to Felise Kaufusi’s sin-binning and a Brian To’o try.

Weight of possession and territory – NSW enjoyed 71 per cent territory and had 33 tackles inside Queensland’s 20m zone to the Maroons’ six – eventually told in a five-try second half.

“Everything (went wrong) by the looks of it, a bit of a flogging,” Munster said. “We matched it in the first half, felt we were the better side, but momentum changed and their little moments turned into big moments.”

Cleary scored twice and set up two tries, while his in-game kicking tormented Queensland’s young wingers Murray Taulagi and Selwyn Cobbo.

“In the first game he wasn’t up to par for himself, is what he said, and obviously proved his critics wrong tonight,” Munster said. “He’s a good quality player … but we made him look good.

“We gave him too much time and space and someone like that, nine times out of 10 they’ll take their opportunity.”





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