Nathan Cleary and Kalyn Ponga at centre of staggering $14 million State of Origin drama

This year's State of Origin series has been decimated by injury.

It is no secret that the NRL has an injury crisis on its hands, with a host of the league's top stars having extended stints on the sidelines. Hamstring strains have been the main cause of concern so far this season, with at least one player seemingly going down weekly with the troublesome injury.

The upcoming State of Origin series, which kicks off on Wednesday, will be without a host of regular stars, so much so that you can put together an incredibly competitive team of players who aren't available for Origin I. A combined team of injured New South Welshman and Queenslanders wouldn't just be competitive, it could actually win the State of Origin shield.

Pictured left Kalyn Ponga and right Nathan Cleary
Kalyn Ponga and Nathan Cleary are just two of a multitude of stars who are sidelined with injuries for this year's State of Origin series. Image: Getty

A side worth an estimated $14.67 million, that has a combined 87 Origins and two Dally M Medals, three Clive Chuchills and two Wally Lewis Medals will miss at least Game I. From the likes of Kalyn Ponga and Tom Trbojevic, who would have likely earned recalls, to Origin regulars Nathan Cleary and Cameron Munster and potential debutants Connor Watson, Dylan Edwards and Corey Horsburgh, an 'injured 17' would be stacked with NRL talent.

Blues winger Brian To'o and second rower Liam Martin were shown a hypothetical side of injured players by AAP and they believed the combined injured team could at least take a game off the Blues or Maroons side selected for Game I. "Man, the halves. The back five are all guns," NSW winger To'o told AAP. "This side (an injured 17) would be absolute guns. One hundred 100 per cent they would win games. That's such a decent side. It depends on the coach how many they'd win. But it just shows, it's one of those years. It started alright but, as we've got closer to Origin, injuries just keep happening."

"That is such a quality side, it would absolutely compete," Blues second-rower Liam Martin added. "There's so much quality there. The injuries have been a lot. But I'm sure the series will still be okay. Both sides will rip in."

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MAY 02:  Dylan Edwards of the Panthers looks at Jai Arrow of the Rabbitohs after being sent to the sin-bin during the round nine NRL match between South Sydney Rabbitohs and Penrith Panthers at Accor Stadium on May 02, 2024, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
Dylan Edwards is the latest star to be ruled out of Game I with injury.

Maroons centre Valentine Holmes, however, is adamant that Queensland would still have the injured team covered. He also put the increased injuries down to the speed of the game and short turnarounds.

"That's a pretty stacked side. But this (Queensland) team beats them," Holmes said. "The game has gotten faster, I think we average around 9km a game. the turnarounds, the travel. It's crazy. I remember at Magic Round seeing all the guys that weren't there."

  1. Kalyn Ponga

  2. Josh Addo-Carr

  3. Bradman Best

  4. Tom Trbojevic

  5. Dylan Edwards

  6. Cameron Munster

  7. Nathan Cleary

  8. Thomas Flegler

  9. Connor Watson

  10. Tino Fa'asuamaleaui

  11. Tom Gilbert

  12. Kurt Capewell

  13. Cameron Murray

  14. Ryan Papenhuyzen

  15. Toby Rudolf

  16. Corey Horsburgh

  17. Daniel Saifiti

18th man: AJ Brimson

with AAP