Kalyn Ponga will meet with a specialist surgeon on Thursday as Queensland brace for a shoulder operation to rule the star fullback out of next month's Origin series.
A final call on Ponga's availability for the Maroons will be delayed until after the gun No.1 has a labral tear in his left shoulder assessed by a specialist, with Newcastle players undergoing end-of-season medicals on Tuesday.
Queensland are yet to name the initial members of their 27-man Origin squad and they will likely make that announcement later this week.
Titans livewire AJ Brimson looms as the most likely fullback replacement option if Ponga is unavailable, while Cameron Munster and Moses Mbye have also had plenty of experience at the back in previous NRL seasons.
NRL.com understands Ponga has been told surgery is likely the best option to repair damage to his left shoulder, with the 22-year-old visibly uncomfortable in recent weeks as he played through the pain.
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Whether he goes under the knife immediately, or plays on until after November's Origin series, is still to be decided after the Knights' season ended with Sunday's loss to South Sydney.
Ponga has battled on through the injury for some time and has also pushed through other niggling injuries throughout 2020.
Recovery time for the particular operation Ponga requires can range between three and five months.
If Ponga held off having surgery until after Origin concludes it would leave him battling to start the 2021 season, at the very least coming off a limited pre-season.
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Already the Maroons have lost outside backs Michael Morgan and Kyle Feldt for the series due to injury, and Valentine Holmes for game one due to suspension.
Champion Maroons No.1 and current selector Billy Slater endorsed Brimson's chances upon learning of Ponga's potential absence, Slater conceding it would be a telling blow for the already injury hit Queenslanders.
“He’s a big part of that Queensland team,” Slater told WWOS Radio.
“I’m not sure what to make of that but it will be very disappointing if Kalyn Ponga is not available for Origin this year.
“AJ Brimson has been playing outstanding football so he would certainly come into contention for that position but it would be great to have Kalyn Ponga out there.”
Rabbitohs coach Wayne Bennett will take charge of Queensland's lead-in once his club campaign wraps up, with predecessor Kevin Walters still involved in preparations as he takes charge at Brisbane.