Good News For Queensland Maroons: Ex key player has returns back…

Knights superstar Kalyn Ponga has emerged as a shock Maroons selection option for the July 17 Origin decider after being among a host of big names set to return in this weekend’s Round 18 matches.

Ponga, who was the 2023 Dally M Medalist as NRL player of the year, has missed the opening two Origin matches after being sidelined for 10 weeks with a Lisfranc injury suffered in the Round 7 match against the Bulldogs.

However, with Queensland needing to bounce back from a 38-18 loss at the MCG last Wednesday to retain the State of Origin Shield, Ponga may now come into contention for the decider after being named for Sunday’s match in Canberra.

Maroons coach Billy Slater will be forced to make at least one change to the side that played in Sydney and Melbourne after Storm winger Xavier Coates tore his hamstring in last weekend’s win against the Raiders.

Broncos centre Selwyn Cobbo is expected to be recalled to the squad after being chosen at 18th man and playing 72 minutes in the record 38-10 triumph at Accor Stadium following the early loss of Reece Walsh with a concussion.

Walsh returned in Origin II and is expected to retain his spot for the decider at Suncorp Stadium, but Ponga could come onto the bench, where he began his Maroons career before taking over the fullback role in 2021.

Ponga, who has played seven Origins, missed last year’s series due a succession of head knocks and was initially expected to be sidelined for 12 weeks with his latest injury but has been named in the No.1 jersey for Sunday’s clash with the Raiders.

The Knights captain joins a number of big-name stars making their comebacks this weekend, headed by:

  • Sea Eagles superstar Tom Trbojevic (hamstring)
  • Titans utility AJ Brimson (groin)
  • Storm fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen (heel)

Trbojevic has been named in the centres for Saturday night’s match against North Queensland in Townsville after recovering from his latest hamstring injury sustained in the Round 10 clash with the Dolphins.

If Trbojevic comes through the match unscathed, there is a chance he could be added to the NSW squad aiming to become the first Blues side to win a decider in Brisbane since 2005.

Brimson, who has been named at five-eighth for Friday night’s clash with the Sharks, is also set to be considered for the Maroons squad, along with Titans team-mate David Fifita.

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