Newcastle superstar Kalyn Ponga has been ruled out of the 2020 State of Origin series in another cruel blow for Queensland.
Ponga met with specialists to determine the extent of a shoulder injury this week with the 22-year-old and club agreeing surgery was the best option.
The incumbent Maroons fullback was included in Queensland's extended squad by Wayne Bennett last Sunday, hours after the Knights bowed out of the finals series with a 46-20 loss to South Sydney.
Ponga had been nursing a shoulder issue throughout the year but will be available for the start of 2021 NRL Telstra Premiership season.
He is expected to go under the knife next week.
"I’m devastated to miss out on Origin," Ponga said in a Knights statement.
"I love pulling on the Maroons jersey. It is a privilege to play in the NRL and a privilege to be selected to represent Queensland.
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"As an athlete and competitor, I pride myself on performing no matter how my body feels but I also accept that both the Maroons and Knights medical staff have my best interest at heart in making this decision.
"I wish the Queensland camp all the best for a successful 2020 series. I’ll be cheering loudly from home and will be working tirelessly to earn my place back in the squad next year."
The QRL released a statement on Friday afternoon supporting Ponga's decision to withdraw from the Maroons' 2020 campaign and elect for surgery.
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"Based on advice from Kalyn's treating surgeon, and our assessment, Kalyn should be medically ruled out of this year’s Origin series," Maroons doctor Matt Hislop said.
"This decision is in both his and the team’s best interests, and will give him the best opportunity to recover and be ready for next year’s season."
Ponga's withdrawal from Queensland's squad comes after the dynamic fullback was crowned the club's player of the year at an awards night in Newcastle on Thursday.
He leaves new Maroons coach Wayne Bennett limited with options at fullback, although in-form Titans star AJ Brimson now appearing to be the frontrunner for an Origin debut on November 4.
North Queensland fullback Valentine Holmes could also come into calculations for Origin II once the Maroons flyer serves a one-match ban following a suspension in round 20.
Bennett told media only hours before he held no concerns over players withdrawing from the series through injury.
"There won't be any carry on from me about those things - they're all decisions for players and clubs," Bennett said.
"I know how much players do want to play Origin but if they're not fit to play I don't want them playing. The club doesn't have to tell me not to play them and the player doesn't have to tell me.
"Invariably they don't play well because they don't have confidence, it doesn't work."