The doubts continue over Ben Hunt. Photographer: Liam Kidston.
The doubts continue over Ben Hunt. Photographer: Liam Kidston.

Maroons’ last-minute Origin mess

QUEENSLAND'S nightmare lead-in to Origin 1 at the MCG on Wednesday night has continued as the Maroons scramble to settle a line-up for the crucial opener.

Latest reports after a worrisome week indicate:

DANE Gagai badly dislocated his finger at training on Tuesday morning and is in extreme doubt for the game. The Courier Mail's Pete Badel broke the news, reporting it would prompt a dramatic reshuffle of the Queensland backline.

BEN Hunt is also facing question marks over his availability. Fox Sports Australia reported the half was battling to prove his fitness for the game in the latest hit to Queensland's spine. Hunt looked under duress as he took part in the Maroons' Captain's Run on Tuesday morning in Melbourne, Fox Sports Australia reports.

But Seven News reporter Rohan Welsh tweeted: "Hunt looked to be moving fine on the limited time we were allowed in stadium. QLD adamant he'll play."

KALYN Ponga was not originally expected to be promoted to the bench in the wake of Billy Slater's withdrawal through injury. Ponga flew to Melbourne after Slater succumbed to a hamstring injury, but was overlooked for Brisbane's Anthony Milford. That may change depending on Gagai's availability.

MICHAEL Morgan is favoured to replace Slater at fullback. NRL.com reports selectors see Morgan as the most seamless pick because he knows the "systems and calls that are so vital in the spine".

JOSH McGuire "moved freely" at the Captain's Run, according to the AAP, easing concerns about the lock's ankle.

QUEENSLAND has blown out to $2.70 to win the game with the TAB, the longest odds the bookmaker has ever offered for the Maroons in an Origin opener. The previous record was $2.35, all the way back in 2000.

The doubts continue over Ben Hunt. Photographer: Liam Kidston.
The doubts continue over Ben Hunt. Photographer: Liam Kidston.

Morgan was initially named on the Maroons' bench as a utility. Morgan is known as a half but switched to fullback for NRL club North Queensland this season in a bid to regain form after a stellar 2017.

Slater was present at the training session along with former skipper Cameron Smith.

Queensland begin a new era on Wednesday as they start life without retired greats Smith, Johnathan Thurston and Cooper Cronk.

- with AAP



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