Harry Grant firms for State of Origin 3 amid concerning development for Queensland hooker

The Maroons star is battling a sternum injury, but doesn't appear to be in any doubt to play.

Harry Grant is set to play through the pain of a sternum injury in State of Origin 3, despite reports he's in some doubt for the series decider. Grant was a surprise omission from the Melbourne Storm to take on the Wests Tigers this weekend, with the club saying they opted to give him another week of rest to keep him fresh for the run to the NRL finals.

Grant suffered a nasty cut to the head in Origin 2 that required stitches, and the Storm rested him last weekend for their win over the Raiders. The Storm's head of football Frank Ponissi revealed on Wednesday that star hooker Grant is dealing with some aches and pains, and they chose to sit him out for the second week running.

Harry Grant in action for Queensland in State of Origin 2.
Harry Grant is said to be in some doubt for State of Origin 3. Image: Getty

"After discussions with the medical staff and Craig [Bellamy], it was felt that we'd give Harry another week off," Ponissi said. "He's been carrying a lot of bumps and bruises, he has played a lot of football this year and he's had two tough Origin matches. We thought it was in his best interests to give him a break this week again … it will freshen him up for the back-end of the season."

Harry Grant, pictured here after copping a nasty knock to the head in Origin 2.
Harry Grant copped a nasty knock to the head in Origin 2. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Leading journalist David Riccio revealed on SEN radio on Wednesday morning that Grant is dealing with a painful sternum injury. And Phil Gould reported that his mail was that Grant is in doubt to take his place in the Maroons' side for the Origin decider.

"He's got a sternum injury, I think he's in doubt for Origin," he said on the Six Tackles With Gus podcast. "I think it will be a risk to play him - those things don't come good overnight. That's my mail, I might be wrong."

But News Corp reported on Thursday that Grant is set to play through the pain and will do everything in his power to help the Maroons win the Origin shield for a third year running. Grant's absence would be a huge blow for Queensland in the series decider at Suncorp Stadium. Billy Slater has been using Grant as a weapon off the bench in tandem with starting hooker Ben Hunt.

Harry Grant, pictured here at a Melbourne Storm training session.
Harry Grant at a Melbourne Storm training session on Wednesday. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

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If Grant is ruled out, Slater might opt to play Hunt for 80 minutes at dummy-half, or he could look to someone like Reed Mahoney if he wants another specialist hooker on the bench. With Kalyn Ponga making his return for Newcastle this weekend, Slater also might be tempted to pick him on the bench.

But according to Queensland great Corey Parker, Ponga could also find himself starting at fullback if he has a blinder against Canberra this weekend. Reece Walsh has been the Maroons fullback for the majority of the last two series, but was rusty and off the boil in Queensland's huge loss in Origin 2.

"There has to be some serious conversations with the Queensland selectors about putting [Ponga] back in the team somewhere,” Parker said. “Does Queensland start him at fullback, or could he be that super sub off the bench?

“The reality is Reece got heavily knocked out in Origin 1 and he hasn’t played a lot of football since. It was a tough night for him in Origin 2. Reece Walsh is a wonderful talent but he doesn’t own the Queensland No.1 jumper. Billy Slater owned it for a long time but Reece hasn’t been around long enough to have a mortgage on the fullback spot.

“If Walsh has a good game against the Panthers, well that would basically seal his spot, but if he has another flat performance, the door has to be open for Kalyn. If KP puts a good game together on Sunday, there has to be some internal conversations.

“I don’t know if Billy will go that way, but he has to think about it. I suspect there are going to be a lot of points in this decider and Kalyn got man-of-the-match in the decider two years ago. Whether he is 1 or 14, I’m not sure, but I just think Kalyn Ponga can win the game for Queensland.”