NSW rocked by crushing injury blow for State of Origin decider

·Sports Editor
·3-min read
Payne Haas, pictured here in action in State of Origin I.
Payne Haas (L) has been ruled out of the State of Origin decider. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

NSW will have to win the State of Origin decider without the services of Payne Haas after the Broncos prop was ruled out of Game III on Monday.

Haas, who has been battling a recurring AC joint issue all season, played in the Broncos' 40-26 defeat to the Cowboys on Saturday.

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But he has since re-aggravated the shoulder injury and won't feature in the decider at Suncorp Stadium on July 13.

Brad Fittler will instead hand a debut to Cowboys veteran Jordan McLean, who has yet to play State of Origin despite winning eight caps for Australia.

In the only other change to the NSW side announced on Monday, Fittler has opted to recall Jack Wighton.

However the Canberra five-eighth will have to make do with being the Blues' 18th man after missing Game II with Covid-19.

Despite Latrell Mitchell withdrawing from contention, Wighton has been unable to dislodge Matt Burton and Stephen Crichton in the centres.

On Sunday, NSW legend Andrew Johns said: "Jack was NSW's best player in Game I by a mile but unfortunately for Jack, Burton has gone in that position.

"Jack will be in the 17 somewhere. I doubt Jack could play on the right side (for Crichton) and I don't think you can change that team."

Cronulla utility Siosifa Talakai has also retained his spot on the bench, while Fittler has opted to stick with the one-two punch of Api Koroisau as his starting hooker with Damien Cook on the pine.

The uncapped trio of Nicho Hynes, Jacob Saifiti and Reece Robson round out the extended squad with Parramatta's Clint Gutherson.

Jack Wighton, pictured here in action for Canberra against the Dragons.
Jack Wighton in action for Canberra against the Dragons. (Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images)

Nanai to start, Gilbert to debut for Queensland

Meanwhile, Tom Gilbert will debut for Queensland as Billy Slater resisted making sweeping changes for the series decider.

With experienced second-rower Felise Kaufusi unavailable due to family reasons, Maroons selectors have called in the North Queensland forward.

Gilbert has been named on the interchange bench, with fellow Cowboy Jeremiah Nanai promoted to the starting side in Kaufusi's absence.

Maroons selectors have also added another Cowboy in Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow and emerging Sydney Roosters playmaker Sam Walker to the squad, effectively replacing Corey Oates and Reece Walsh.

Tom Gilbert, pictured here in action for the Cowboys against Wests Tigers.
Tom Gilbert in action for the Cowboys against Wests Tigers. (Photo by Albert Perez/Getty Images)

The Maroons were dominated in a 44-12 loss in Perth last Sunday, where they had the chance to seal the series after an upset 16-10 victory in Sydney.

Slater resisted any urge to tinker with his pack, or his youthful backline for the Suncorp Stadium clash though.

Josh Papalii is again set to start in the front row. Wingers Murray Taulagi and Selwyn Cobbo have retained their spots, while back-rower Nanai gets his chance to start after two quiet games off the bench this series.

Cameron Munster (shoulder) and Kalyn Ponga (concussion) have both been named after missing games for their clubs on the weekend.

NSW side:

James Tedesco (capt), Brian To'o, Matt Burton, Stephen Crichton, Daniel Tupou, Jarome Luai, Nathan Cleary, Jordan McLean, Api Koroisau, Jake Trbojevic, Cameron Murray, Liam Martin, Isaah Yeo.

Bench: Damien Cook, Angus Crichton, Junior Paulo, Siosifa Talakai.

Reserves: Jack Wighton, Nicho Hynes, Clint Gutherson, Jacob Saifiti, Reece Robson.

Queensland side:

Kalyn Ponga, Selwyn Cobbo, Valentine Holmes, Dane Gagai, Murray Taulagi, Cameron Munster, Daly Cherry-Evans (capt), Lindsay Collins, Ben Hunt, Josh Papalii, Kurt Capewell, Jeremiah Nanai, Tino Fa'asuamaleaui,

Bench: Tom Gilbtert, Harry Grant, Jai Arrow, Patrick Carrigan.

Reserves: Thomas Flegler, Tom Dearden, Beau Fermor, Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow, Sam Walker.

with AAP

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