Reece Walsh is out of the second State of Origin game at Suncorp Stadium after suffering a hamstring injury at Queensland's final training session on Saturday.
The QRL announced the 19-man Maroons squad for Sunday's must-win game and Walsh was a shock omission, with officials revealing he had a low-grade hamstring strain.
Walsh needed treatment during the captain's run at Suncorp Stadium and the 18-year-old has been robbed in heart-breaking fashion of the chance of making his Origin debut for Queensland.
Valentine Holmes, who played in the No.1 jersey in the Ampol State of Origin series opener in Townsville, will revert to fullback after he was selected on the wing for game two and Sharks winger Ronaldo Mulitalo has been elevated to the starting side after he was initially selected on the extended bench.
A controversial selection, the 18-year-old Warrior was set to become the youngest Origin debutant since Ben Ikin in 1995.
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Walsh has played just seven NRL games since he was released by Kevin Walters at the Broncos two months ago.
NSW coach Brad Fittler was unaware of Walsh’s injury when he spoke to the media on Saturday afternoon after the Blues completed their captain’s run at Suncorp Stadium but played down the disruption his absence is likely to have on either team’s preparations.
"We love the drama around Origin, that is what makes it so great," Fittler said.
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"They chose him believing that he would be able to do a job but Val Holmes played fullback in the last game so I am sure they will be right.
"It won’t change our game plan or game. Given it is so late it doesn’t change anything for us. We have completely finished our preparation."
Fittler said the Blues had struggled to overcome the loss of captain and fullback James Tedesco in last year’s series decider as they did not have a back on the bench but the Maroons were able to promote Mulitalo into their side.
"We lost James very early in the last game [of the 2020 series], about 15 minutes in," Fittler said.
"That was a disruption we weren’t able to cover but they would have a player who has been with them for the entire time so they would be able to cover."
After making his Origin debut at 18 years of age for NSW, Fittler said he felt for Walsh but was sure he would get another opportunity to play for Queensland.
"I love watching Reece Walsh play. I think he is an absolute star," Fittler said.
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"I think it would be disappointing from his point of view being chosen and having gone through the week."
The disrupted preparation will increase the pressure on the Maroons, who are massive underdogs heading into game two.
Queensland legend Brent Tate believes a poor attitude hurt the Maroons in Origin I as they were on the end of a record-breaking 50-6 rout.
"They just got their attitude wrong - they just weren’t willing to do the tough stuff you’ve got to do in Origin," he said.
They just weren’t willing to do the tough stuff you’ve got to do in Origin.Brent Tate
"Origin’s all about moments and competing on every single play as hard as you can and Queensland just weren’t willing to do that in game one, so that’s what they’re going to have to fix in game two.
"I think they’ve picked a better team, so I think just think, as a whole, they’re going to be a lot better and they’re going to have to be because this NSW side is something else."
Tate is hopeful a packed Suncorp Stadium crowd can energise the Maroons as they bid to keep the series alive on Sunday.
"There’s nothing in life that is ever going to come close to playing at Suncorp Stadium," he said.
"There’s nothing that I could even say or even try to compare it to because that roar and adrenaline and that feeling you get when you run out, it’s magical."