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Maroons No.9 ranks suffer another blow

Queensland are likely to need a new No.9 following confirmation Andrew McCullough has suffered a serious knee injury.

With Sydney Roosters hooker Jake Friend (biceps) also on the long-term injury list, Dragons utility Ben Hunt will become a central part of discussions when selectors meet ahead of the June 5 series opener.

Talk swirling around Storm great Cameron Smith making an Origin return won't be quietened by the news regarding McCullough. 

McCullough went for a scan on Tuesday on the injury suffered at training on Monday and Broncos head of performance Paul Devlin confirmed the Maroons rake had "a fairly decent MCL injury" to his right knee.   

The Broncos have not put a time frame on McCullough's recovery date but it is expected he will be out for at least six weeks.

While McCullough will be missed by the Broncos, the man replacing him has been given a vote of confidence.

Jake Turpin has been named to start at hooker for Friday night's Magic Round clash with Manly at Suncorp Stadium.

The 22-year-old has played two NRL games for Brisbane after debuting last year and captain Darius Boyd said he had the skill set to do the job with distinction.

"Jake has been a great player for us in the couple of games he played last year and has been doing some good things in the Queensland Cup," Boyd said.

"He works hard, he's got a good motor and is a good defender as well which we are definitely going to need because Macca is our best defender.

Scans confirm MCL injury for McCullough

"We will miss Macca's experience but if we can hold the ball it will make Jake's job a lot easier because we won't have to make as many tackles.

"We also have a couple of options if Jake can't finish 80 minutes, then Alex Glenn and Kotoni Staggs can move in there and take a bit of pressure off as well."

The Broncos' spine has undergone an overhaul in the past fortnight with half Kodi Nikorima signing with the Warriors and now McCullough's injury.

Turpin and 18-year-old half Tom Dearden will now play together for the first time with five-eighth Anthony Milford and fullback Boyd.

Broncos forward Matt Gillett said McCullough would be "a massive loss".

"He's been our best this year. He's a competitor and does a lot of work through the middle," Gillett said.

"Teams have shown this year that they can cope without key players and hopefully our side can do that."

Sea Eagles v Broncos - Magic Round

McCullough will see a surgeon later this week to determine the next step in his rehabilitation but Devlin offered hope that he could make a speedy recovery..

"We have seen some guys come back from MCLs in accelerated time now so we will hold some hope for that," Devlin said.

"They tend to heal pretty well, he will go into as brace and we will progress his rehab journey straight away.

"There is no more professional player especially with injuries than Andrew, so if anyone is going to get back really quickly, he will certainly be a candidate for that."

As expected, the Broncos have dropped winger Jamayne Isaako and centre James Roberts and elevated Gehamat Shibasaki and Kotoni Staggs to the starting line-up.

Shibasaki will play right wing and Staggs left centre with Jack Bird reverting to his favoured right centre position.

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Queensland Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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