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Maroons Origin team: Stars in doubt; Grant set to start ahead of Mahoney

Rookie Queensland coach Paul Green is set to gamble on three superstars who have not played in a month while Eels hooker Reed Mahoney is a chance to make his debut for the State of Origin series opener on June 9.

Green on Monday selected Cameron Munster, Kalyn Ponga and Harry Grant in his 20-man squad despite the trio having not played any NRL games since round nine.

Grant has been named to start at hooker while Mahoney and fellow potential debutant Kyle Feldt have been listed on the extended bench in the team submitted to the NRL by midday on Monday under official guidelines.

Munster has battled a Lisfranc foot injury, Grant needs to overcome a hamstring strain and Ponga has struggled with a groin complaint and all three remain in doubt for the series opener next week.

A tripping suspension is hanging over the head of Melbourne forward Felise Kaufusi and he will head to the NRL judiciary on Tuesday night in a bid to clear his name.

Bench utility AJ Brimson is confident he will be fit despite limping off with a knee injury in Gold Coast's heavy loss to Cronulla on Sunday.

Green said he wanted to finalise his 17-man team by the end of the week but such is his confidence in Munster being fit to play he admitted he does not have a back-up option if the Wally Lewis Medallist is ruled out.

"I don’t have one," Green said when asked who his back up five-eighth is if Munster is ruled out in camp.

Munster cleared for Origin but doubts hover over key Maroons

"We will wait and see but at this stage given it’s day one of camp and we haven’t actually done anything on the paddock yet but by all reports he has ticked all the boxes up to this stage and we will see how we go. We are reasonably confident."

Ponga is the player in most doubt with Valentine Holmes and Brimson possible fullback replacements, while Feldt could get a debut if the Newcastle ace is ruled out with Holmes to wear the No.1 jersey.

"Prep is really important for this game, you don’t want too many disruptions given it is a relatively new team.

"By the end of this week we’d want to know our 17 sorted out and get some good training done," Green said.

Green insisted it wasn’t risky carrying three key players into a game who’ve not played for a month.

"Yeah you can look at it that way but you can look at it that they’re fresh as well," Green said.

"With those guys I don’t think fitness is an issue. The bigger guys like to get that match fitness but I don’t think those guys fall into that category."

Green had demanded utmost secrecy around his first Origin side selection, believing players should hear from the coach ahead of any media leaks about their inclusion for such a prestigious game.

It’s why he took such delight in making the phone call to Mahoney and his priceless reaction.

Green leans on legends to select squad

"He was over the moon. He was actually fairly quiet," Green said.

"I would like to have had a camera there once he got off the phone to see what he was like. But yeah he was obviously pretty excited, Mark O’Neill [Eels football manager] said he was nearly peeing his pants. I’m really happy for him.

"Joe Ofahengaue was another one and Jaydn Su’A also they were a bit shocked to get the phone call to be honest given what has happened with them so they were good calls to make."

The Maroons will head to Bundaberg on Tuesday for a fan day so they won’t get on the paddock for the first time until at least Wednesday, with Friday and Sunday their key training sessions ahead of next Wednesday’s clash.

Maroons squad

1 Kalyn Ponga
2 Xavier Coates
3 Kurt Capewell
4 Dane Gagai
5 Valentine Holmes
6 Cameron Munster
7 Daly Cherry-Evans (c)
8 Christian Welch
9 Harry Grant
10 Tino Fa'asuamaleaui
11 Felise Kaufusi
12 David Fifita
13 Jai Arrow
14 AJ Brimson
15 Jaydn Su'A
16 Moeaki Fotuaika
17 Joe Ofahengaue
18 Kyle Feldt
19 Reed Mahoney
20 Coen Hess

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