Kalyn Ponga set for Queensland debut in State of Origin II
SYDNEY (AP) Fullback Kalyn Ponga is set to make his Queensland debut in Sunday’s second State of Orgin rugby league clash with New South Wales.
The 20-year-old Newcastle star was included Monday in coach Kevin Walters’ 18-man squad for the match and is expected to make his first State of Origin appearance off the bench.
Walters has named veteran fullback Billy Slater but is sweating on the 35-year-old’s fitness as he battles a hamstring strain. Slater and Dylan Napa, who has an ankle injury, will be given until Wednesday to prove their fitness.
Ponga comes into the Queensland squad for the first time as a replacement for Andrew Milford as Walters contends with a number of injuries.
”He’s been playing some good football for Newcastle Knights this year and knocking on the door. (He was) very close (for) game one and we expect to have him in game two,” Walters said. ”We’ve got some plans about how we want to use him, going to be a long term player for us and grateful we’ve got him into the side this time around.”
Queensland has won the State of Origin series 11 times in the past 12 years but trails 1-0 in the current three-match series after losing game one 22-12 to a young New South Wales team.
New South Wales coach Brad Fittler named a 20-man squad on Sunday, giving himself several options to replace injured prop Reagan Campbell-Gillard, who is the only player missing from his squad from game one.
Fittler has named Ryan James and Matt Prior as front row options, or could name game one 18th man Tariq Sims. He has also named Roosters five-eighth Luke Keary as cover for James Maloney, who has a pinched nerve in his back.
New South Wales: Josh Addo-Carr, Nathan Cleary, Damien Cook, Boyd Cordner (captain), Angus Crichton, Jack de Belin, Tyson Frizell, Ryan James, Luke Keary, David Klemmer, James Maloney, Latrell Mitchell, Tyrone Peachey, Matt Prior, James Roberts, Tariq Sims, James Tedesco, Jake Trbojevic, Tom Trbojevic, Paul Vaughan.
Queensland: Jai Arrow, Will Chambers, Gavin Cooper, Dane Gagai, Tim Glasby, Coen Hess, Valentine Holmes, Ben Hunt, Greg Inglis, Felise Kaufusi, Andrew McCullough, Josh McGuire, Cameron Munster, Dylan Napa, Josh Papalii, Kalyn Ponga, Billy Slater, Jarrod Wallace.