NSW rocked by fresh State of Origin blow after Haumole Olakau'atu goes down injured

Olakau'atu limped off early in the Sea Eagles' 32-22 loss to Penrith.

The Blues may be forced to try to keep the 2024 State of Origin series alive without Haumole Olakau'atu after the Manly back-rower limped off in the early exchanges of the Sea Eagles' 32-22 loss to Penrith on Sunday. Olakau'atu - who made his NSW debut in the opening game of the series - was taken off the field in the 23rd minute reporting calf soreness.

The Tongan international did not return despite coach Anthony Seibold keeping him warm on the exercise bikes on the sideline as the game slowly slipped away from Manly. Following the game Seibold said his injury wasn't serious and that he expects Olakau'atu will be part of the run on side for next week's game against the Dragons. "I'm told it's minor, but the risk was that if we keep him out there that he does it properly," Seibold said.

Haumole Olakau'atu limped off early in the Sea Eagles' 32-22 loss to Penrith with a calf complaint. Image: Twitter/AAP
Haumole Olakau'atu limped off early in the Sea Eagles' 32-22 loss to Penrith with a calf complaint. Image: Twitter/AAP

"Of course we would have loved to have him, but if we keep him out there and he does his calf … we tried to be conservative with it - the medical staff tell me he's OK."

Haumole Olakau'atu before State of Origin I.
Haumole Olakau'atu (second from right) with NSW teammates before State of Origin I. Image: Getty

Blues coach Michael Maguire will name his squad for Origin II next Sunday, with back-rower Liam Martin also in doubt for Game II after suffering a foot injury in Game I. The Blues went 1-0 down in the series as the Maroons racked up a 38-10 victory after Joseph Suaalii was sent off in just the seventh minute and need to be victorious in Game II in Melbourne to keep their hopes of winning the Origin Shield alive.

Maguire's fresh injury concern has been offset somewhat by welcome news from the Penrith sheds. Panthers coach Ivan Cleary revealed that he expects star fullback Dylan Edwards to be ready to go next week against the Knights.

Edwards was ruled out of State of Origin I the weekend prior with a quad injury, and reports suggested he could be sidelined for around three weeks. But Cleary is confident that both he and Martin will be ready to go weeks ahead of schedule.

"I'm pretty confident with 'Dyl', he should be fine (to play the Knights)," Cleary said. "We're hoping 'Marto' too, his isn't a long-term injury, and even if he can't make it next week I'm sure he'll be right for Origin."

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 01:  Liam Martin and Dylan Edwards of the Panthers hold aloft the Provan-Summons Trophy after winning the 2023 NRL Grand Final match between Penrith Panthers and Brisbane Broncos at Accor Stadium on October 01, 2023 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)
Panthers coach Ivan Cleary is hopeful Liam Martin and Dylan Edwards will be back in the team to face the Knights next weekend.

It would be a big blow for the Blues if Olakau'atu's injury is more severe than first feared as Maguire already faces an uphill battle to save the series. There are plenty of question marks surrounding his Game II side, with a centre needing to come in to replace Suaalii.

While James Tedesco and Nicho Hynes failed to fire in Game I and Edwards and Mitchell Moses are waiting in the wings to replace them. But whatever team runs out onto the MCG for Game II will know that if they are to pull off a State of Origin triumph in 2024 it will have to be done the hard way. The Blues have only come back from 1-0 down to win a series three times in Origin history.


Only in 1994 did they manage to do so with the final two fixtures on the road (Melbourne and Brisbane this year). And even if they do win Game II to level the series in Melbourne, the Blues have lost the past six deciders at Suncorp Stadium.

with AAP