Queensland rocked by devastating blow ahead of State of Origin III

·3-min read
Felise Kaufusi, pictured here in action for Queensland in State of Origin II.
Felise Kaufusi is out of State of Origin III for Queensland. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Queensland have been rocked by a major blow ahead of the State of Origin series decider, with Felise Kaufusi officially out of Game III in Brisbane.

Maroons coach Billy Slater revealed on Sunday that Kaufusi won't be back in time for Game III after travelling to America to be with his ill father.

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The Melbourne back-rower left Game II in Perth and headed straight to the US, missing the Storm's loss to Manly on Thursday night.

Slater revealed on Sunday that Kaufusi won't be named in the Maroons squad on Monday ahead of Origin III on July 13 at Suncorp Stadium.

"There will be one change in our team," Slater told the Nine Network's Sunday Footy Show.

"Felise has unfortunately got an illness in the family and won't make the trip back for the game.

"I spoke to Felise before he went to America and we didn't talk about playing in the game.

"We had a chat yesterday (Saturday) and there's still some uncertainty there and the priority is his family. He's not in a position to be playing State of Origin."

Slater has a number of options to replace Kaufusi, spearheaded by Jaydn Su'A of the Dragons.

Gold Coast duo David Fifita and Beau Fermor also loom as options, as do Canberra's Corey Horsburgh and North Queensland back-rower Tom Gilbert.

Slater also has the option of moving Tino Fa'asuamaleaui to an edge and starting Patrick Carrigan or Jai Arrow in the middle.

However the Maroons will also be without the services of Game I star Reuben Cotter, who won't be fit after picking up a hamstring injury a week ago.

Cameron Munster, Kalyn Ponga and Felise Kaufusi, pictured here celebrating a try for Queensland in State of Origin I.
Cameron Munster, Kalyn Ponga and Felise Kaufusi celebrate a try for Queensland in State of Origin I. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Cameron Munster and Kalyn Ponga set to play

The good news for Queensland is that Kalyn Ponga and Cameron Munster are expected to play after missing their respective club games this week.

Melbourne five-eighth Munster has a shoulder injury and Newcastle fullback Ponga has been dealing with a concussion sustained in Game II in Perth.

However Slater said he expects both to play at Suncorp.

"He (Munster) should be fine," Slater said. "Kalyn will have to go through the (concussion) processes. Speaking to Kalyn he should be good (too)."

Queensland's back three struggled in Game II as they dealt with the two-pronged NSW kicking threat of Nathan Cleary and Matt Burton.

Rookie wingers Selwyn Cobbo and Murray Taulagi had to fight for every yard in Origin II and Slater appeared hesitant at the idea of recalling Brisbane's Corey Oates.

"Corey was in our 22-man squad for Game II and he's playing some great footy," Slater said.

"The two current wingers are playing some good football and it was good to see them bounce back (at club level)."

In more good news for Queensland, the Maroons have history on their side in the series decider.

NSW haven't been able to win a series after losing the first game in Sydney since 1994.

Queensland have enjoyed a remarkable success rate when the series has gone to a decider, winning eight of the past nine in such a scenario.

Suncorp Stadium has also historically been a graveyard for the Blues.

with AAP

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