Jake Trbojevic has been ruled out of Origin II with a hip injury.
News emerged on Friday evening that the Sea Eagles forward would be unavailable for the second game of this year’s triptych, paving the way for Angus Crichton to return to the starting 17.
Crichton missed the series opener through suspension and after the Blues steamrolled their interstate rivals in Game One, pundits were left to wonder whether the side should be altered to repatriate the Rooster.
Liam Martin had been touted as the man likely to miss out should Crichton make his return, but both are now a chance to take the field in Game Two.
Trbojevic has not missed a single Origin game since making his debut in 2017’s series opener.
He played in the front row in Game One, having previously also started from the bench and at lock in his 13-game Origin career.
It remains to be seen how NSW coach Brad Fittler will reconfigure his squad for Game Two, which is set to be unveiled this Sunday.
The coach’s philosophy of playing form players out of position paid dividends in Game One, with Latrell Mitchell, Cameron Murray and both Jake and Tom Trbojevic shining in roles different from those they fill at club level.
The Blues’ rivals from north of the Tweed are not without their own injury concerns for Game Two.
Having already missed the series opener through a groin injury, fullback Kalyn Ponga will also sit out the follow-up fixture.
In anticipation that he may have been fit for Game One, the Maroons flew Ponga up to their Queensland camp – a move Ponga’s coach at club level Adam O’Brien admitted may have delayed his recovery.
“It probably has a little bit,” the Knights supremo said earlier this month.
“In hindsight, I reckon his best chance of (playing in) Game II would have been to stay here and keep working with the group that works with him.”
Maroons prop Christian Welch, who sustained a head knock in Game One, is expected to line up for the second match of the series.
Originally published as Injury blow for Origin veteran