Xavier Coates ruled out of State of Origin decider as Reece Walsh decision backfires on Broncos

Billy Slater will have to make at least one change to his Queensland team for State of Origin 3.

Xavier Coates has been ruled out of State of Origin 3 for Queensland after the Melbourne Storm winger suffered a hamstring tear against Canberra on Saturday night. Coates left the field in immense pain after chasing through on a kick and pulling up lame.

The Storm and Maroons winger needed assistance walking up the tunnel after re-injuring his hamstring - an issue that kept him out of action earlier this year. Coates had a look of devastation on his face as he made his way off the field - and on Sunday it was confirmed he won't be fit for Origin 3 in Brisbane on July 17.

Xavier Coates and Reece Walsh in the NRL.
NRL fans are questioning why Xavier Coates played for the Melbourne Storm but Reece Walsh didn't play for the Brisbane Broncos. Image: Getty

Storm coach Craig Bellamy said Coates would undergo scans, but admitted it didn't look good for the 23-year-old. The Storm revealed on Sunday that Coates has a low-grade hamstring tear and will be out for 6-8 weeks.

"Obviously it's not great, you know, he's had a few issues," Bellamy said on Saturday night. "Until he actually gets a scan, we won't know the exact extent of the injury but I don't think it's too good. I wouldn't think that he'd be available (for Origin) but I don't think the medical staff are going to sort of make that prediction until they see a scan either."

'NRL Physio' Brien Seeney had earlier predicted Coates would be looking at up to eight weeks on the sidelines due to his history of hamstring injuries and the fact it happened at such high speed. "Considering top end sprint mechanism, recent history and functional limitation - moderate to high grade strain looking likely (4-8 weeks recovery)," Seeney wrote on social media.

Queensland coach Billy Slater will likely turn to Selwyn Cobbo to fill the void in his backline for Origin 3. Cobbo was picked on the bench for Game 1 but was overlooked for the second game because of some niggling injuries and the need for a mental break.

Coates' injury led some fans to question why he played against the Raiders at all given it came just three days after Origin 2 in Melbourne - and the Storm's position on the NRL ladder. Bellamy opted to rest captain Harry Grant after Origin 2, but decided that Coates was ok to play. With the Storm coming first on the ladder, some questioned why Coates needed to play.

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And it was the opposite situation for the Brisbane Broncos, with coach Kevin Walters coming under fire for choosing to rest his Origin trio of Reece Walsh, Payne Haas and Patrick Carrigan. The Broncos had to play in New Zealand on Saturday afternoon, meaning their Origin players would have had to fly from Brisbane to Melbourne for Game 2, before another flight to New Zealand.

The extra travel didn't appeal to Walters and he opted to give Haas, Carrigan and Walsh a rest. But the Broncos have now slipped to eighth on the ladder and could fall out of the top eight after the weekend's remaining games, following their 32-16 loss to the Warriors.

Tyson Smoothy in action for the Broncos against the Warriors.
Broncos players look on during their NRL loss to the Warriors. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Considering their precarious position on the ladder, fans were left fuming that Walters decided to rest their best players. Haas and Carrigan played big minutes in Origin 2 (and have been all season), so the decision not to play them was understandable.

But Broncos fans pointed out that Walsh hadn't played in three weeks before Origin 2 and didn't have a particularly taxing game on Wednesday night. Whether or not he could have helped the Broncos beat the Warriors remains to be seen, but fans were fuming that he didn't even play.

“It’s a very tough decision,” Mal Meninga said on Fox Sports about Kevin Walters' call. “Even looking back at Kevvie throughout his career, he would never sit at home and not play. It’s a little bit against the way the Broncos have operated in the past, where typically it’s seen as a badge of honour to come back after Origin.”

Walters said in his post-match press conference: “It’s always a tough period for clubs who provide players through Origin. This year we have been hit a bit harder through injuries for those guys not involved."