Billy Slater will not play for Queensland in Wednesday night’s State of Origin series opener at the MCG.
News emerged on Monday afternoon that the fullback, who recently announced this would be his last representative series, had failed in his bid to line up for the Maroons.
He has been carrying a hamstring injury for some time, having not played for Melbourne since May 19.
“I didn’t pull up as well as I would have liked after our training run on Sunday,” Slater said in a statement.
“Because I’m not 100 per cent, it’s in my best interests as well as the team’s to withdraw from Wednesday’s game.”
Anthony Milford or Kalyn Ponga, two players who spent time in camp last week, will join the squad in Melbourne tonight but the final team will not be decided until closer to the game.
Michael Morgan could earn a promotion off the bench, while Cameron Munster is an option to move from five-eighth to fullback.
“We knew we had some concerns with Billy, but he’s a champion player and we needed to give him every chance to play,” Queensland coach Kevin Walters said.
“We’ve had plans in place to cover Billy if he didn’t come up right, and we’ve actioned that today with Anthony and Kalyn coming in.”
The bombshell came just hours after Queensland coach Kevin Walters had cautiously given Slater the thumbs up.
Halfback Ben Hunt (thigh) and lock Josh McGuire (ankle) were the Maroons’ other injury concerns, but they are expected to line up to start the game.
Slater’s withdrawal means Queensland will take the field without all four of the Storm fullback, Johnathan Thurston, Cooper Cronk and Cameron Smith for the first time since Origin II, 2003.
Greg Inglis, who took over as captain following Smith’s shock rep retirement, is now the only player in either the Maroons or NSW teams to have played at least 10 Origin games.