INSPIRATIONAL forward Sam Thaiday has abandoned his bid to play in Wednesday week's opening State of Origin, leaving Queensland selectors to call up gangly Sydney Roosters forward Aidan Guerra to make his debut in the 100th clash between the two states.
Thaiday (calf) broke the news to Queensland coach Mal Meninga on Saturday, giving selectors time to take a good look at Guerra, who despite the Roosters' disappointing performance against the Cowboys in Townsville, played well enough to earn his first Maroon jumper in such a significant match that would have been Thaiday's 21st appearance.
Thaiday, who had been confident of playing in the opening game of the series, suffered a setback during the week, and has taken medical advice against playing.
Queensland selectors had a telephone hook-up early last night to thrash out a new-look pack with South Sydney teammates Chris McQueen and Ben Te'o fighting for Thaiday's back-row spot along with Brisbane utility Matt Gillett who would not be out of place in the torrid opening minutes.
Guerra, a real rip-and-tear type would be a perfect replacement for Thaiday, in fact, there have already been comparisons made how similar they play.
The big issue for selectors before they met was whether to stick with young Canberra forward Josh Papalii who has been struggling to find his best form with the Raiders copping successive beltings before their vastly improved 26-20 loss to Penrith yesterday which may have saved his jumper.
The selectors are also likely to follow last year's lead in game three and name Melbourne's Will Chambers as cover for the outside backs with centre Justin Hodges having a hamstring history.
Queensland will named its extended squad at a dinner at Suncorp Stadium tonight when Meninga will crank up the emotion as members from the victorious 1 980 - including a family representative of Arthur Beetson - will walk out on stage with those players chosen in their positions for Wednesday week's historic 100th Origin game at the same ground, then known as Lang Park.