Ponga opts for surgery, will miss State of Origin

Queensland’s hopes of winning State of Origin have been dealt a severe blow with star fullback Kalyn Ponga confirming that he will miss the series with a shoulder injury.

The 22-year-old Newcastle fullback was named in Wayne Bennett’s preliminary 15-man squad on Wednesday.

The surgery means Ponga will be fit to return for the 2021 NRL season.

“I’m devastated to miss out on Origin,” Ponga said in a statement.

“I love pulling on the Maroons jersey. It is a privilege to play in the NRL and a privilege to be selected to represent Queensland.

“As an athlete and competitor, I pride myself on performing no matter how my body feels but I also accept that both the Maroons and Knights medical staff have my best interest at heart in making this decision.

Ponga has played three State of Origin matches in his career.

A Newcastle Knights NRL player runs with the ball tucked under his left arm as a Cronulla opponent dives to tackle him.A Newcastle Knights NRL player runs with the ball tucked under his left arm as a Cronulla opponent dives to tackle him.
Kalyn Ponga scored 10 tries and 46 goals for Newcastle this NRL season.(AAP: Darren Pateman)

The statement went on to say that Ponga’s decision to go under the knife had nothing to do with reports he was frustrated with living in the NRL bubble.

“Many people have made sacrifices throughout this trying period for the game and that commitment has not been lost on Kalyn or the family,” the statement read.

Returning Maroons coach Bennett will select his final 27-man squad after the NRL grand final on October 25, ahead of the series opener at Adelaide Oval on November 4.

The Adelaide opener will be followed by matches in Sydney on November 11 and Brisbane on November 18.

New South Wales has won the last two State of Origin series.