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Sky Blues suffer injury hits ahead of Origin I

Jillaroos World Cup-winning forwards Holli Wheeler and Caitlan Johnston have both undergone knee surgery this week, which will rule them out of the Harvey Norman NSW Sky Blues squad for the opening women’s Origin game at Sydney’s CommBank Stadium on 1 June.

Wheeler injured her right knee playing for the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs in the Harvey Norman NSW Women’s Premiership Semi-final against Illawarra at Leichhardt Oval two weeks ago.

Johnston has an MCL tear in her knee, which needed corrective surgery, after she suffered the injury playing for the Newcastle Knights in the NSWRL’s elite women’s club competition.

It is a double-blow for Sky Blues coach Kylie Hilder, who has two Origin games in 2023 for the first time.

The second match is at Townsville’s Queensland Country Bank Stadium on Thursday 22 June.

“It’s Rugby League and injuries can happen. But I’m disappointed for both girls because they both have great experience and were showing good form for their clubs,” Hilder said.

“The timing isn’t great for them because I know how much they love playing for the Sky Blues.

“I told them to get stuck into their rehab as they’ve still got plenty of good football ahead of them.”

Wheeler has played three Origins – 2018, 2019 and 2021 – and five Tests for Australia.

Johnston made her Origin debut in last year’s 20-14 win in Canberra, where she received instant cult hero status with her barnstorming runs into the Queensland defence.

Johnston was named inaugural Sky Blues Award winner in 2022, the women’s equivalent of the Brad Fittler Medal, and was later named in the Jillaroos squad for the 2021 World Cup last November.



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