State of Origin: Blues and Maroons suffer huge setbacks ahead of game two

Michael Holland
Jack Wighton

New South Wales and Queensland have both been hit by huge setbacks after Jack Wighton and Reuben Cotter were ruled out of game two of State of Origin.

The Blues were left reeling after learning that Wighton has contracted Covid-19, while Cotter will miss out for Queensland after suffering a hamstring injury. Both players stood out for their respective states in game one and will be sorely missed.

Wighton was a revelation playing at centre and chipped in with a try. The Canberra star would have been nailed on to play again in Perth. However the Raiders revealed Wighton has Covid and will also miss their game with Newcastle.

“Raiders five-eighth Jack Wighton has been ruled out of Sunday’s match against the Knights due to COVID protocols,” the Raiders said in a statement. “Wighton will follow COVID return to play protocols once his isolation is completed next week.”

State of Origin setback for Fittler

It is another big setback for Blues coach Brad Fittler, who has lost a number of star players this year. And he has also ruled out the possibility of Latrell Mitchell stepping in to replace Wighton.

Mitchell has recovered from a hamstring issue and looked set to figure. However he too picked up Covid and although he is free to play, it will not be happening.

The South Sydney ace is lacking game-time and Fittler says Mitchell will not be available.

“Latrell is unavailable,” he said on Channel Nine’s NRL coverage. “Speaking to South Sydney earlier in the week, given he’d just come back from America and when he got back to Australia he had COVID-19 as well, so I believe he was pretty knocked around. He’s only had one proper session, so Latrell won’t be available.”

Huge Cotter blow for Maroons

Meanwhile Queensland coach Billy Slater will also be gutted to hear the news regarding Cotter. The North Queensland forward picked up a hamstring injury in the warm-up ahead of Friday night’s game against Manly.

It has been suggested Cotter is looking at three to five weeks on the sidelines. That would put him out of the remainder of the series. Along with Pat Carrigan, Cotter stood out in game one, earning plenty of praise for the way he played.

The injury is also a big setback for the Cowboys as they continue to fly this season. Even without Cotter they managed to complete a remarkable comeback to beat the Sea Eagles 28-26.

“He felt it go in the warm-up,” coach Todd Payten said after the game. “He’ll go for a scan tonight. I think he’s bummed about obviously what’s happened this week and the missed opportunity for him.

“I’m disappointed for the kid, he’s worked so hard. He’s doing a terrific job not just for us but for Queensland.”