Ronaldo Mulitalo is set to be denied a State of Origin debut on the morning of the game after the NRL deemed him ineligible to represent Queensland.
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The New Zealand-born winger was in camp all week as 19th man before receiving a late call-up to the side when Reece Walsh suffered an injury during Saturday’s captain’s run.
Xavier Coates, who was dropped from the squad in the aftermath of the Maroons’ Game 1 humiliation, has been recalled in his place.
No sooner was Mulitalo’s eligibility being officially questioned by the NSWRL after an article surfaced from 2019 claiming he moved to Queensland just shy of his 14th birthday.
Under current eligibility requirements, players must have lived in either NSW or Queensland prior to their 13th birthday.
The NRL executive met on Saturday night and are reportedly set to deny 21-year-old Mulitalo his debut, just hours before kick-off at Suncorp Stadium.
The Maroons believed the Cronulla winger was eligible because he had already played for Queensland’s under-18 and under-20 sides, albeit potentially only because of administrative oversight.
Another option could be to shuffle bench utility Ben Hunt to five-eighth and regular No.6 Cameron Munster to fullback, however, the promotion of 18th man Coen Hess to the bench would still leave Queensland needing a late addition.
They are already without injured hooker Harry Grant and fullbacks Kalyn Ponga, AJ Brimson and Walsh, who was poised to debut after just seven NRL games.
The Blues trounced the Maroons 50-6 in Townsville and will start heavy favourites to secure the series in Brisbane.