NSW veteran Josh Morris admits his State of Origin career could be over after dramatically pulling himself out of the Blues’ team for Game II due to injury.
Dylan Walker will start in the centres in Brisbane, with Jack Bird to debut on Wednesday night off the bench.
Canterbury star Morris hurt his groin in the team’s second training run of the week on Thursday and underwent intense rehabilitation on their day off on Friday in the hope of proving his fitness.
But Morris failed to finish Saturday’s session and immediately made the call to withdraw.
“It was my call. It’s about putting the team first,” Morris said later.
“I don’t want to go in there and give a poor performance in a Blues jersey because of an injury.
“Queensland are smart as well – they probably would’ve targeted me, knowing I was going in under an injury cloud. It was the best decision for the team.”
However, it could spell the end of Morris’ five years in the centres for NSW, having played in 12 of the past 13 Origin matches. He debuted in 2009, playing 14 games all up.
He was initially overlooked by Blues coach Laurie Daley for Game I, but was recalled on match eve when Josh Dugan ruled himself out in similar circumstances.
Morris was hopeful Blues fans hadn’t seen the last of him in a NSW jumper.
“I guess I’m getting upwards of 30 now. I hope not, but you never know,” he said.
He spoke of how he felt “a grab” on Thursday in the team’s previous field session.
“I was just changing my line, trying to run inside the shoulder of a bloke and I felt a grab. We pretty much pulled it up straight away there and iced it,” he said.
“Yesterday, I did plenty of physio and spent a fair bit of time in there. It wasn’t until we ran that it didn’t feel right. The strength was all there but I went into a jog and there was pain there.
“We had to call it then.”
Walker’s promotion into the starting line-up means he will not only play in his favoured position in the three-quarter line, but face off against former South Sydney teammate Greg Inglis.
Morris said he would give Walker a run-down on how to limit the Queensland star.
“I’ll speak to him in the lead-up, just to make sure that their combinations are going well and that their communication’s right up there because Suncorp is a loud place – you can barely hear anyone,” he said.
Morris also backed Bird to make an impact on debut.
“He’s a confident young kid. He’s been playing some good football so he’s in some good form and he should be confident heading into the game,” he said.