Ponga recalled as Maroons name new look team (2024)

Queensland champions Kalyn Ponga and Dane Gagai have been recalled to a new look Maroons team after coach Billy Slater was forced into some major changes due to injury.

Ponga has been named on the bench in a role similar to that played by Selwyn Cobbo in Origin I, while Gagai will start in the centres.

The pair were called up due to a backline reshuffle triggered by injuries to Queensland's starting wingers in the opening two games, Xavier Coates and Murray Taulagi who have both been sidelined by hamstring injuries.

Advertisem*nt

LIVE BLOG: News and reaction to Origin III teams

READ MORE: Eels land prized Bellamy pupil as head coach

READ MORE: Star axed, Latrell replacement named in Blues shake-up

Coates and Taulagi's misfortune opened the door for Cobbo's recall, with the Broncos ace nabbing one of the vacant wing positions, while Valentine Holmes, who was under pressure to hold his position after a torrid game two in which he was carved up by Latrell Mitchell, was given a reprieve and moved to the other wing.

Ponga recalled as Maroons name new look team (1)

Gagai is the other change to the Maroons' starting backline, with the Knights veteran called up for his 23rd Origin game at the age of 33.

"We just feel that's the best make-up for the footy team," Slater said of the backline shuffle. Obviously with Murray (Taulagi) and Xavier Coates going out, so the two wingers aren't in the team from game one and two, so that forces you to shift things around and we feel that - we know what Valentine Holmes can bring as a centre but also as a winger. He's a world class winger and I feel like he'll fill that position real well."

Slater did not succumb to the temptation of bringing Ponga straight into the starting side, preferring to carry him on the bench where he has been a destructive presence for Queensland in several of his eight Origin appearances.

The Queensland coach has previously cast doubt that Ponga and Reece Walsh would fit into the same Origin line-up and cracked a smile when he was asked if Ponga's call-up had been part of a plan to unite two of the NRL's most lethal attacking players.

"I always thought they'd love to be teammates, so now they get the opportunity to be teammates and how they go about it, well we'll build that over the next nine days," Slater said.

"But yeah, pretty excited for them both to get out there and get their footy on. We know what they bring, they're very exciting players but at the same time we need to get our footy right, right from the start. We can't be on the back foot like we were in game two and we need to raise the standard of our game to get there."

Watch the 2024 State of Origin series exclusively live and free on Nine and 9Now.

Ponga recalled as Maroons name new look team (2)

Harry Grant has also been named to play his customary Origin role off the bench despite carrying a sternum injury that has sidelined him in recent weeks - with he and Ponga's presence on the four man interchange squeezing space for the big men, with Slater relying on Moeaki Fotuaika and Felise Kaufusi as cover for his starting front and back rowers.

Slater said that Ponga "hadn't missed a beat" in his return for the Knights after a long layoff due to a foot injury.

"He's obviously done a lot of work at training and a lot of physical work to get himself in the condition he's in," Slater said.

"And we feel that that's the best thing for the footy side, to have him in the side."

Kurt Capewell was retained in the side despite criticism over his performance in Origin II, with the Warriors veteran starting alongside Jeremiah Nanai in the back row. He survived the axe despite a clamour for the inclusion of David Fifita, who again missed out.

Ben Hunt will play his 20th Origin match after retaining the No.9 jersey for the decider at Suncorp Stadium.

Ponga recalled as Maroons name new look team (3)

Slater acknowledged that the personnel changes the Maroons had made wouldn't be a fix for what went wrong in game two, throwing down the challenge to his senior players to lift for the decider.

"We need to really go after our footy and make sure we have an even share of possession, make sure our discipline's on point, that we're not putting more pressure on ourselves and that's important for us to go after at this camp because it is a different game but we need to make sure it's different with our actions."

Maroons team for Origin III

1. Reece Walsh 2. Selwyn Cobbo 3. Dane Gagai 4. Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow 5. Valentine Holmes 6. Tom Dearden 7. Daly Cherry-Evans 8. Reuben Cotter 9. Ben Hunt 10. Lindsay Collins 11. Kurt Capewell 12. Jeremiah Nanai 13. Patrick Carrigan 14. Harry Grant 15. Moeaki Fotuaika 16. Felise Kaufusi 17. Kalyn Ponga. Reserves: 18. Trent Loiero 19. Brendan Piakura 20. Reed Mahoney

Ponga recalled as Maroons name new look team (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Amb. Frankie Simonis

Last Updated:

Views: 5872

Rating: 4.6 / 5 (56 voted)

Reviews: 87% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Amb. Frankie Simonis

Birthday: 1998-02-19

Address: 64841 Delmar Isle, North Wiley, OR 74073

Phone: +17844167847676

Job: Forward IT Agent

Hobby: LARPing, Kitesurfing, Sewing, Digital arts, Sand art, Gardening, Dance

Introduction: My name is Amb. Frankie Simonis, I am a hilarious, enchanting, energetic, cooperative, innocent, cute, joyous person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.