Queensland have been hit with a fresh injury blow with Kalyn Ponga racing the clock to be fit for Origin 1 following news Melbourne Storm star Cameron Munster could also miss the opening game.
Newcastle announced on Friday that Ponga would miss their Sunday afternoon clash with Manly due to his ongoing groin complaint.
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The star Queensland fullback was expected to play after already missing two matches and now faces a race against the clock to be fit for the series opener on June 9.
Ponga was tipped by retired Queensland captain Cameron Smith to step in as five-eighth should regular No.6 Cameron Munster not recover from a foot injury.
Meanwhile, Felise Kaufusi is also facing a stint on the sideline after a charge for tripping in Melbourne's huge win over Brisbane on Thursday night.
The Queensland pack is already missing suspended enforcer Josh Papalii and injured Lindsay Collins, while Storm prop Christian Welch sat out the Brisbane match with a knee injury.
Welch gave a clue on how Munster's recovery was travelling, but was unable to give an answer on whether he will be ready in time.
"It's a really difficult injury that one ... but (Munster) is still a chance," Welch said.
"I had been carrying a niggle for the last month or so and on a five-day turnaround it was a bit much, so just wanted to be on the safe side, but there's no structural damage."
NSW injury crisis grows
New South Wales are also facing a forward dilemma.
Payne Haas looks almost certain to join Brad Fittler's mounting list of unavailable talent for Game 1, with the Brisbane forward likely facing up to a month out with a knee injury.
The Broncos enforcer damaged a ligament early in his NRL side's 40-12 loss to Melbourne on Thursday, playing through the pain before hobbling off after 50 minutes.
However, the knee injury looks likely to sideline Haas for not only the opener, but the return clash at Suncorp on June 27.
Meanwhile, Wayne Bennett has implored NSW to pick Latrell Mitchell in the centres for State of Origin, claiming he'd be the Blues' equivalent of Greg Inglis.
Both Phil Gould and Paul Gallen left Mitchell out of their NSW sides for Game I this week, picking Stephen Crichton and Tom Trbojevic in the centres.
Mitchell has not played for NSW since being dropped after the opening game in 2019, when coach Brad Fittler was concerned about his decision making and positioning.
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