South Sydney stars Luke Keary and Dylan Walker have withdrawn from the NSW City Origin side for Sunday’s match with Country Origin due to injury.
Walker suffered a knee injury in the Rabbitohs’ loss to Canberra on the weekend, while Keary is struggling with a foot complaint.
Wests Tigers fullback James Tedesco moves onto the City wing with James Roberts shifting from wing to centre in place of Walker.
Canberra playmaker Blake Austin moves off the bench to partner Josh Reynolds in the City halves, with Parramatta utility Joseph Paulo moving from 18th man to the interchange bench and Penrith back-rower Bryce Cartwright becomes coach Brad Fittler’s reserve.
“I haven’t spoken to Luke, we just got a message from South Sydney,” Fittler said on Monday.
“It’s disappointing but I understand. We are eight weeks into the NRL and most of the blokes are probably carrying injuries, that is why these weeks can be tough.
The City v Country fixture is often the victim of questionable pullouts due to injury, but Fittler said he was satisfied with Souths’ handling of the matter.
“Luke played well yesterday, but that is the report coming out of South Sydney and I’m being guided by them,” Fittler said.
Keary has though missed a chance to press for NSW State of Origin selection.
“Every game is an opportunity and City/Country is a big opportunity given James Maloney and Josh Reynolds will be playing against each other,” Fittler said.
“It would have been another step towards an Origin jersey if he played a good game.”