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Maroons v Blues: Ponga, Gagai return; Best man for the job

The Maroons are chasing a third-straight State of Origin series victory as the series shifts north of the border for Wednesday's decider. 

Queensland will enjoy the home comforts of a sold-out Suncorp Stadium as they look to bounce back from a disappointing 38-18 loss to NSW in Game Two. 

Queensland coach Billy Slater has made a handful of changes to his side, with Kalyn Ponga set to pose a unique threat when he's injected off the bench. 

History is on the Maroons' side, with Queensland winning nine of the last 10 deciders. The Blues' last victory in a live Game Three at Suncorp Stadium came back in 2005. 

NSW, however, are riding high after their MCG triumph and coach Michael Maguire has named a settled team for Wednesday's clash. 

The Blues have made just two changes, with Bradman Best coming in for the injured Latrell Mitchell and Mitch Barnett named to make his Origin debut after replacing Haumole Olakau'atu on the bench.

Maguire has made no secret of his side's desire to win the physical battle up front, with Payne Haas and Liam Martin looking to ensure Queensland's backs are never comfortable.

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Team News

Queensland: The Maroons have made three late changes with Ben Hunt, Lindsay Collins and Jeremiah Nanai benched and Harry Grant, Moeaki Fotuaika and Felise Kaufusi starting the game. Kaufusi will go to prop with Cowboys forward Reuben Cotter shifting to the second row.

Queensland have recalled 22-game veteran Dane Gagai and his Knights teammate Kalyn Ponga to the Origin arena, with both men set to play their first game since the 2022 decider. Broncos outside back Selwyn Cobbo also returns after being rested from Game Two, slotting into the centres with Val Holmes moving to the wing to replace Murray Taulagi (hamstring). Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow has been named and is expected to be right for the game after suffering an AC joint (shoulder) injury in Melbourne during Game Two. Warriors back-rower Kurt Capewell comes into the starting side in place of Jaydn Su'A. The Storm's Trent Loiero is 18th man.

NSW: The Blues will take the field 1-17 with no late changes.

Bradman Best and Warriors forward Mitch Barnett are the new faces in the NSW team. After making five changes for Game Two in Melbourne, Blues coach Michael Maguire has recalled Best in place of the injured Latrell Mitchell, while Barnett replaces interchange forward Haumole Olakau'atu. There was a scare for the Blues on day one in camp when Best went for scans on his hamstring but he centre resumed full training on Saturday and is good to go. Matt Burton is 18th man.

Team Lists


  • Fullback for Maroons is number 1 Reece Walsh
    Fullback for Blues is number 1 Dylan Edwards
  • Winger for Maroons is number 2 Selwyn Cobbo
    Winger for Blues is number 2 Brian To'o
  • Centre for Maroons is number 3 Dane Gagai
    Centre for Blues is number 3 Bradman Best
  • Centre for Maroons is number 4 Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow
    Centre for Blues is number 4 Stephen Crichton
  • Winger for Maroons is number 5 Valentine Holmes
    Winger for Blues is number 5 Zac Lomax
  • Five-Eighth for Maroons is number 6 Tom Dearden
    Five-Eighth for Blues is number 6 Jarome Luai
  • Halfback for Maroons is number 7 Daly Cherry-Evans
    Halfback for Blues is number 7 Mitchell Moses


  • Prop for Maroons is number 15 Moeaki Fotuaika
    Prop for Blues is number 8 Jake Trbojevic
  • Hooker for Maroons is number 14 Harry Grant
    Hooker for Blues is number 9 Reece Robson
  • Prop for Maroons is number 16 Felise Kaufusi
    Prop for Blues is number 10 Payne Haas
  • 2nd Row for Maroons is number 8 Reuben Cotter
    2nd Row for Blues is number 11 Liam Martin
  • 2nd Row for Maroons is number 11 Kurt Capewell
    2nd Row for Blues is number 12 Angus Crichton
  • Lock for Maroons is number 13 Patrick Carrigan
    Lock for Blues is number 13 Cameron Murray


  • Interchange for Maroons is number 9 Ben Hunt
    Interchange for Blues is number 14 Connor Watson
  • Interchange for Maroons is number 10 Lindsay Collins
    Interchange for Blues is number 15 Isaah Yeo
  • Interchange for Maroons is number 12 Jeremiah Nanai
    Interchange for Blues is number 16 Mitchell Barnett
  • Interchange for Maroons is number 17 Kalyn Ponga
    Interchange for Blues is number 17 Spencer Leniu


  • Replacement for Maroons is number 18 Trent Loiero
    Replacement for Blues is number 18 Matt Burton

Match Officials

  • Referee: Ashley Klein
  • Touch Judge: Dave Munro
  • Touch Judge: Chris Sutton
  • Senior Review Official: Grant Atkins

Last updated:

Stat Attack

  • Historically after claiming Game One in Sydney the Maroons have gone on to win seven series (1988, 1995, 1998, 2010, 2015, 2016, 2022) and lose only one (1994).
  • Eight Blues players will experience their first Origin decider at Suncorp.
  • Maroons hooker Ben Hunt will play his 20th State of Origin game
  • Cameron Murray and Jake Trbojevic are the only Blues players who have won a series decider
  • Maroons centre Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow has scored nine tries in six Origin matches. He has scored at least one try in all of his games for Queensland.
  • Since Origin became a three-game series in 1982, the state that has lost the first game has come back to win the series just 10 times (out of 41).
  • The last time the Blues won a series decider in Brisbane was 2005. Of 13 deciders played in Queensland since 1982 the Blues have won just two.
  • Queensland's Cameron Smith holds the record for most Origin games with 42, followed by fellow Maroon Johnathan Thurston on 37.
Acknowledgement of Country

Penrith Panthers players and staff respect and honour the traditional custodians of the land and pay our respects to their elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.