Queensland star Johnathan Thurston believes it would be unfair for NSW rookie Wade Graham to be robbed of a State of Origin debut for his high tackle on him – but said it was still a bad shot.
Graham is the lone change in the Blues team for their must-win game in Brisbane on Wednesday week, replacing the injured Boyd Cordner on the left edge.
Controversial game one selection Dylan Walker has been retained, as has centre Josh Morris, who was sensationally recalled for the series-opener following an injury to Josh Dugan.
But Graham’s Origin dream now rests in the hands of the NRL match review committee on Tuesday after he was penalised for a shot on the North Queensland co-captain in his side’s 13-10 win on Monday night.
Thurston was initially upset with the incident post-game and was surprised to learn that Graham wasn’t placed on report by lead referee Gerard Sutton.
“He didn’t miss me. Wasn’t it reported? Is that because I got up?” Thurston said.
“I may have been slipping, but you still can’t make contact with the head, can you?”
But asked whether he would feel for the 25-year-old Graham if he was to robbed of an Origin debut because of the tackle, Thurston said: “It’d be pretty soft if he does.”
Should he be charged, Graham has 23 carry over points and will carry 50 per cent loading due to a similar offence on Cowboys centre Justin O’Neill stemming from last year’s semi-final.
A grade one charge will mean a one-game ban, even if he takes the early guilty plea.
“No doubt I’ll see it replayed about 15,000 time in the next couple of days,” Graham said.
“(The referee) didn’t put it on report on the field so hopefully we’ll see in the next couple of days. There’s no use jumping up and down about something we don’t know what’s going to be. What will be will be.”
Blues and Sharks skipper Paul Gallen insisted a penalty was sufficient.
“It wasn’t a swinging arm and he didn’t clock him. It’s more of a grab. He grabbed his chin,” he said.
“I think the referee summed it up best. It was a penalty and that’s where it should stay. I know it’ll be a talking point for you guys but I think JT’s 100 per cent right.”
Graham’s Sharks teammate Jack Bird and Penrith talent Bryce Cartwright have been included as development players and will travel with the squad for camp in Coffs Harbour on Tuesday.