Star’s cruel diagnosis ahead of Origin

As a Maroons stalwart, he’s routinely embarrassed New South Wales’ edges for series upon series, but Dane Gagai may be forced out of this year’s State of Origin opener.

The star Rabbitoh is currently in isolation from his Queensland compatriots after the team’s doctor confirmed he had been diagnosed with tonsillitis.

The Maroons released a statement on Sunday which confirmed Gagai had returned a negative Covid-19 test and is on antibiotics.

Queensland is hopeful he will be well enough to travel with the team to Townsville on Monday.

Gagai is known for bringing his A-game into the Origin arena and with 16 caps to his name, he’s the most experienced Maroon named in the side’s squad for Game I.

New Queensland coach Paul Green will sweat on Gagai’s match fitness as his omission from the starting 13 would likely force a reshuffle of the Marrons’ backline.

Titans star AJ Brimson firms as the likeliest option to come into the outside backs if Gagai is unavailable, but Brimson is himself battling to overcome a knee injury in time for Origin I.

Maroons custodian Kalyn Ponga was named in Green’s squad for the series opener but has since been ruled out.

Injuries have hampered their 2021 campaigns at club level but Storm duo Cameron Munster and Harry Grant are expected to line up for Game I.

Gagai’s steady hands would be sorely missed in the Maroons’ centres. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)Source:Getty Images

The curtain-raiser to this year’s series will be the first game in Origin history to be played in Townsville, and the first game held in an Australian city which is not a state capital.

Crucially for Queenslanders, this year’s series is also set to be the first with two consecutive games in the same state, with the second match scheduled for Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.

New South Wales head into the opener as favourites, despite naming three debutants in their 17.

Only Kyle Feldt is expected to make his debut for the Maroons in Game I of the triptych.

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