Kalyn Ponga has withdrawn from this year’s State of Origin series because of a shoulder injury that requires surgery.
The Newcastle fullback was named in new Queensland coach Wayne Bennett’s preliminary squad but confirmed he would not take his place in the Maroons No. 1 jersey this year.
Watch the 2020 NRL Telstra Premiership Finals on Kayo. Every game before the Grand Final Live & On-Demand with no-ad breaks during play. New to Kayo? Get your 14-day free trial & start streaming instantly >
“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.
“I wish the Queensland camp all the best for a successful 2020 series.
“I’ll be cheering loudly from home and will be working tirelessly to earn my place back in the squad next year.”
The star fullback leaves the Maroons in crisis with Wayne Bennett now forced to look towards Titans fullback AJ Brimson to step into Ponga’s No. 1 Queensland jumper.
Injured Melbourne Storm star Cameron Munster is also an option to play fullback if he is fit.
Bennett earlier this selected Ponga in an preliminary squad of 15 players made up of players from the 10 clubs already eliminated from the 2020 premiership.
The former Broncos coach’s biggest surprise is the selection of just two players from his former club.
The squad announcement created history with the Gold Coast Titans enjoying more representation in a Queensland Origin squad than the Broncos for the first time.
Broncos stars Patrick Carrigan and Xavier Coates were the only Brisbane players selected while the Titans had Jai Arrow, Brimson, Moeaki Fotuaika and Phillip Sami picked.
The Broncos had David Fifita unavailable through injury, while Anthony Milford, Joe Ofahengaue and Corey Oates were simply overlooked.
Cowboys veteran Josh McGuire’s snub was also confirmed.
Queensland State of Origin 2020 preliminary squad:
Jai Arrow (Gold Coast Titans), AJ Brimson (Gold Coast Titans), Moeaki Fotuaika (Gold Coast Titans), Phillip Sami (Gold Coast Titans), Edrick Lee (Newcastle Knights), Hymel Hunt (Newcastle Knights), Valentine Holmes (North Queensland Cowboys), Coen Hess (North Queensland Cowboys), Xavier Coates (Brisbane Broncos), Patrick Carrigan (Brisbane Broncos), Ben Hunt (St George Illawarra Dragons), Josh Kerr (St George Illawarra Dragons), Harry Grant (Wests Tigers / Melbourne Storm), Daly Cherry-Evans (Manly Sea Eagles)