1st Origin match: Thurston won't play for Queensland vs NSW
BRISBANE, Australia (AP) — Queensland playmaker Johnathan Thurston has been ruled out of next week's State of Origin rugby league opener against New South Wales due to a shoulder injury.
Thurston was named the Maroons' 18th man on Monday, but he confirmed Thursday he would not play in the May 31 match at Brisbane.
"I'm devastated I won't be playing next week, but the call needed to be made and it's the right decision for the team," said Thurston, who plays for the North Queensland Cowboys.
Anthony Milford of the Brisbane Broncos is expected to be the starting five-eighth for the Maroons. Thurston had been aiming to make his 37th consecutive Origin appearance for Queensland.
Meanwhile, New South Wales center Josh Dugan said he's expecting to be targeted by Queensland during the opener as he prepares to test his fractured cheekbone.
Dugan hasn't played since sustaining the injury in Australia's the Anzac Test win over New Zealand earlier this month and has been working himself up to full fitness.
The St. George-Illawarra player had his first contact session with the Blues in camp in Sydney on Wednesday and is confident of his cheekbone holding up.
"Everyone's fair game," Dugan said. "I'm sure I'll be fair game. That's Origin."
Jarryd Hayne, who played as a running back and specialty teams member with the NFL's San Francisco 49ers for one season before returning to the National Rugby League, has been named on the New South Wales team.
The second match of the series is set for Sydney on June 21, with the third back in Brisbane on July 12.
Origin 1 Teams:
Queensland: Darius Boyd, Corey Oates, Will Chambers, Justin O'Neill, Dane Gagai, Anthony Milford, Cooper Cronk, Dylan Napa, Cameron Smith, Nate Myles, Josh Papalii, Matt Gillett, Josh McGuire, Michael Morgan, Sam Thaiday, Aidan Guerra, Jacob Lillyman, Jarrod Wallace.
New South Wales: James Tedesco, Blake Ferguson, Josh Dugan, Jarryd Hayne, Brett Morris, James Maloney, Mitchell Pearce, Aaron Woods, Nathan Peats, Andrew Fifita, Josh Jackson, Boyd Cordner, Tyson Frizell, Jack Bird, Wade Graham, David Klemmer, Jack Trbojevic. Extended bench: Jordan McLean, Matt Moylan, Jack de Belin.