David Fifita snubbed again as Kalyn Ponga wins recall for Queensland for State of Origin 3

Billy Slater's Maroons team for the Origin decider has been revealed.

Billy Slater has left David Fifita out in the cold once again, while Kalyn Ponga, Dane Gagai and Selwyn Cobbo have all been recalled for Queensland for the State of Origin decider. Slater's team for the Game 3 decider was confirmed on Monday morning, with Fifita's omission once again the biggest talking point.

The Gold Coast Titans forward has been overlooked by Slater all series, but many predicted he would come back into the Maroons team that was bullied by NSW in Game 2. But it hasn't eventuated, and Slater has once again resisted the urge to pick the second-row wrecking ball.

David Fifita, Kalyn Ponga and Billy Slater.
Billy Slater has picked Kalyn Ponga for State of Origin 3, but David Fifita has been overlooked once again. Image: Getty

The Queensland coach has also axed Dragons back-rower Jaydn Su'a, with Kurt Capewell set to start for the Maroons. Gagai and Cobbo have both been brought into a back-line affected by injuries, with wingers Xavier Coates and Murray Taulagi both unable to take their place in the decider.

And Ponga will start on the bench and provide an X-factor for Slater, after opting out of playing in the 2023 series. The fullback started the year in brilliant form but was struck down by a foot injury that kept him out of action for over two months.

He made his return as the Knights beat the Raiders on Sunday, and that was all Slater needed to see to pick him. "He's been a big part of the Queensland team for a number of years, missed last year and was in great form at the start of the year," Slater said on the Sunday Footy Show. "He's just got to get back on the field and start playing footy."

Kalyn Ponga and Billy Slater, pictured here after State of Origin 1 in 2022.
Kalyn Ponga and Billy Slater after State of Origin 1 in 2022. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

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Knights coach Adam O'Brien backed Ponga for a recall, even though it means he won't be playing for Newcastle in Round 19. "I'd be super supportive," he said after Sunday's game. "He never lets his state down, he played a pretty important role in a win for them not long ago. He does more than enough for us as a team and he deserves (it)."

Slater has picked Trent Loiero as the 18th man. Initial reports suggested Bulldogs hooker Reed Mahoney would be used as 18th man, in what was thought to be a move to cover Harry Grant. The Melbourne Storm hooker hasn't played for the last two weeks due to a sternum injury. Instead, Mahoney will join Brendan Piakura on the extended reserves list.

"(Grant) hasn't been ruled out," Slater told The Sunday Footy Show. "He's had a couple of weeks off now, he didn't play the game after the Origin, he sat out the game on the weekend. I know Harry pretty well, I've been speaking to him over the last couple of weeks. He's in a pretty good place."

The major talking point from Slater's team for Game 3 is his latest snub for Fifita - and it hasn't gone down well with fans. Fifita played in all three games last year, but Slater has gone completely cold on him in 2024. The Queensland coach said before Game 1 that Fifita hadn't lived up to the standards he set in 2023, but his form has been good over the last few weeks and he would add some much-needed muscle to the Queensland pack.

"He has got to be in the mix, hasn't he?" Titans coach Des Hasler said last week. "I am not partial to any inside word there but he has certainly got those pieces in his game that would make him pretty handy. It is a big game. It is a decider. They don't get any bigger and he has certainly got some x-factor in his game.

"I think what he has been doing this year is pretty consistent across the piece. He has been interrupted with various injuries but I think his last month of footy has been quite strong."

  1. Reece Walsh

  2. Selwyn Cobbo

  3. Dane Gagai

  4. Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow

  5. Valentine Holmes

  6. Tom Dearden

  7. Daly Cherry-Evans (c)

  8. Reuben Cotter

  9. Ben Hunt

  10. Lindsay Collins

  11. Kurt Capewell

  12. Jeremiah Nanai

  13. Pat Carrigan

  14. Harry Grant

  15. Felise Kaufusi

  16. Mo Fotuaika

  17. Kalyn Ponga

  18. Trent Loiero

Reserves: Brendan Piakura, Reed Mahoney

with AAP