Queensland’s injury crisis ahead of its must-win State Origin encounter in Sydney has worsened, with workhorse lock Corey Parker ruled out of Game II due to a facial fracture sustained in Brisbane’s win over Canberra on Monday night.
The Broncos captain and veteran of 12 Origins for the Maroons had scans on Wednesday, which confirmed the break. Parker is the second member of Queensland’s extended 22-man squad to withdraw, after Josh Papalii suffered an ankle injury, also on Monday night. Meanwhile, superstar trio Billy Slater (shoulder), Greg Inglis (ankle) and Daly Cherry-Evans (knee) remain under injury clouds.
Enigmatic but in-form Gold Coast Titans forward David Taylor has been recalled to the Queensland squad in Parker’s stead, with his ability to play in the backrow seeing him favoured over the likes of Josh McGuire and Brenton Lawrence.
The injury to Parker almost certainly seals New Zealand Warriors prop Jacob Lillyman’s return to the Queensland 17 after a three-year absence. Matt Gillett is the obvious choice to wear the No.13, while Chris McQueen may now retain his starting second-row spot alongside the returning Sam Thaiday – although Aidan Guerra’s strong display on debut in the series opener may result in a promotion to the run-on side.
Queensland was favoured to head into the vital clash with four forwards on the bench; if the underdogs persist down that line, Taylor will make his first Origin appearance since 2012. The Maroons’ other option is to employ Ben Hunt or Anthony Milford – who are both in the extended squad – as a bench utility.
Whichever final squad coach Mal Meninga settles on, replacing Parker’s colossal work-rate and offload frequency will be a difficult task.
In a much-needed boost, Slater and Inglis have declared themselves likely starters for the embattled eight-time champs.
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