UPDATED: Sharks star Ronaldo Mulitalo was in, then almost as quickly out of Queensland's team to play NSW in the second game of the 2021 State of Origin series.
After being selected in an extended Queensland squad late last week, Mulitalo was set to make State of Origin debut in tonight's game following an injury to fullback Reece Walsh, however his eligibility was then brought into question, with the NRL releasing the following statement.
"The Queensland Rugby League (QRL) has withdrawn Ronaldo Mulitalo from the Queensland Maroons squad after being uncertain of his eligibility to play in Ampol State of Origin.
"Due to COVID-19 protocols and public health orders, the National Rugby League (NRL) has advised the QRL that Mulitalo’s replacement must be an eligible player from a Queensland based NRL club."
Just 32 games into his NRL career, Mulitalo was born in New Zealand before making Queensland his home as a teenager. He was expected to play on the wing tonight with former Shark Valentine Holmes shifting to fullback in place of Walsh.
Young Broncos winger Xavier Coates was expected to come into the Queensland team after playing game one of the series for the Maroons.
Mulitalo to get his first taste of Origin
He may not get to run out onto Suncorp Stadium on Sunday, however Ronaldo Mulitalo will get his first glimpse of what State of Origin football is all about after being named as 19th man for the Queensland team for game two of the series.
Mulitalo, who has made a definite impact for the Sharks in their three recent victories after missing six matches with a knee injury, joined the Queensland team in camp earlier today.
Just 20 years of age, Mulitalo has played 32 NRL games since debuting back in 2019, in round seven against the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium, scoring 22 tries in those 32 appearances.
He joins a Queensland squad which has made five changes to their 17-man team, some forced and others due to injury.
Youngster Reece Walsh, veteran hooker Andrew McCullough, Canberra front rower Josh Papalii, Dragons utility Ben Hunt and Cowboys forward Francis Molo have been added to the Maroons side.
Former Sharks Valentine Holmes and Kurt Capewell have retained their places in the team, with Holmes shifting from wing to fullback to accommodate the inclusion of Walsh.
Origin game two is scheduled for Sunday night at Suncorp Stadium, with the 19-man Maroons squad listed below.
1. Reece Walsh - New Zealand Warriors
2. Valentine Holmes - North Queensland Cowboys
3. Kurt Capewell - Penrith Panthers
4. Dane Gagai - South Sydney Rabbitohs
5. Kyle Feldt - North Queensland Cowboys
6. Cameron Munster - Melbourne Storm
7. Daly Cherry-Evans - Manly Warringah Sea Eagles
8. Christian Welch - Melbourne Storm
9. Andrew McCullough - St George Illawarra Dragons
10. Josh Papalii - Canberra Raiders
11. Jai Arrow - South Sydney Rabbitohs
12. Felise Kaufusi - Melbourne Storm
13. Tino Fa’asuamaleaui - Gold Coast Titans
14. Ben Hunt - St George Illawarra Dragons
15. Moeaki Fotuaika - Gold Coast Titans
16. David Fifita - Gold Coast Titans
17. Francis Molo - North Queensland Cowboys
18. Coen Hess - North Queensland Cowboys
19. Ronaldo Mulitalo - Cronulla Sutherland Sharks