Maroons

Gagai avoids fracture as Maroons get Arrow, Ponga boost

NRL.com understands that scans have cleared Gagai of a suspected broken hand, with the injury capping off a wretched Origin opener for the veteran centre in Townsville where a bout of tonsillitis severely hampered his preparation.

Gagai was placed on intravenous antibiotics leading into the Blues 50-6 flogging of Queensland and sat out South Sydney's win over Newcastle a few days later.

New era starts now: Arrow targets sustained success for young Maroons

Papalii’s absence is an enormous blow to Queensland title defence, his 18 Origin appearances since 2013 leaving the Maroons outgunned in the experience stakes with just 32 Origin games between the entire pack against NSW with 41 games under their belt.

Of the Maroons' 32 games half can be attributed to two players – Felise Kaufusi (nine) and Arrow (seven) – with the rest of their big men only entering the Origin arena in the past two seasons with some yet to even win a game.

Walters: Why condensed Origin series will benefit Maroons

It was announced on Thursday that due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, Origin would be staged on November 4, 11 and 18 - three consecutive Wednesdays - when it's hoped crowds can attend.

It's the first time Origin has been played so late in the year, with the showpiece series usually kicking off in late May or early June. Venues are yet to be confirmed.

Walters told NRL.com he thinks moving the series down the calendar, free from the interruption of club football, is "excellent from our point of view" as the Maroons look to snap NSW's two-year winning run.

Ofahengaue out of Origin II

The injury means he will be unavailable for Origin II in Perth on June 23 and giving him little time to prove his fitness for the Holden State of Origin series finale in Sydney on July 10.

Newcastle veteran Tim Glasby, Storm forward Christian Welch, Titans prop Jarrod Wallace and Sharks forward Kurt Capewell would be the main candidates to replace Ofahengaue on Queensland's bench.

Broncos halfback Thomas Dearden limped from the field at Suncorp Stadium early on Sunday with a syndesmosis injury. 

Thaiday joins new-look Maroons coaching staff

With a nod to the future, Walters has added some exciting young guns to the Emerging Origin squad for the first time, including Jake Clifford, David Fifita, Phillip Sami and AJ Brimson. 

The weekend will mark the first opportunity for Walters and newly-appointed Maroons assistants Justin Hodges and Johnathan Thurston to work together alongside Queensland’s next generation.

Walters announced the Maroons’ new coaching and support team in November last year as part of a “fresh approach” ahead of the 2019 Holden State of Origin series.

Billy Slater goes out with a win

Queensland provided one final highlight for stand-in skipper Slater, downing NSW 18-12 in State of Origin III in Brisbane in a fitting farewell for the veteran fullback.

Polarising Maroons playmaker Daly Cherry-Evans was a standout after ending three years in the Origin wilderness.

After his 31st and final Origin, Slater said it was vital for the Maroons' future that he helped deny the Blues their first series whitewash in 18 years.

Blues on high alert as Cook rates Ponga best player in game

Cook rated Ponga the best player in the NRL Telstra Premiership this season and the man that could single-handedly ruin plans of the Blues securing just their second series victory in 13 years.

With a mission of his own to terrorise rucks late in both halves, the 26-year-old expects to see more of Queensland's utility off the bench than he did of Anthony Milford in game one.

Ponga leads the NRL in tackle breaks (116), line break assists (13) and kick return metres with 871 in total.

Milford chooses Samoa over Origin as four players defect to NZ

The 23 year old played in Queensland's Game One State of Origin defeat against New South Wales earlier this month but will be unavailable for Game Two on Sunday after opting to represent Samoa.

Milford played in Samoa's Pacific Test defeat by England last May but missed the World Cup due to a shoulder injury.

Manly winger Jorge Taufua is set to make his debut for Samoa, having previously represented Tonga, however four former Toa Samoa internationals have switched allegiance to New Zealand ahead of the Kiwis controversial test against England in Denver this weekend.

NSW take out SOO 1

The lead was extended further by a try in the 21st minute off a brilliant dummy half run by Damien Cook with support from Maloney to put James Tedesco between the sticks.

The match was shaken up with a hit from Maroons captain Greg Inglis from an offside position, costing them a penalty.

An Intercept by Holmes on a long pass by Maloney close to the Maroons try line saw Holmes run the length of the field to register the Maroons first points in the 28th minute, later converting his own try.

They went into the sheds at half time 8-6 in favor of the Blues.

Lockyer: Walters decision will boost Maroons

Walters is a selector as well as a coach of the Maroons side and said in a statement that the "perception of my impartiality" was one of the reasons why he decided to remove himself from a club role.

Walters attended the launch of the 2018 Holden State of Origin Series in Melbourne on Tuesday where he said: "the level of interest at the media conference reinforced how privileged I am to be the head coach of a Maroons team which means so much to the people of Queensland."