Queensland coach Kevin Walters has been blindsided by Darius Boyd's sudden retirement from representative football as the Maroons face another fortnight of uncertainty around Billy Slater's fitness.
Boyd surprised plenty by telling The Courier Mail he is "done with rep footy" after Brisbane's loss to Melbourne on Sunday, calling time on his Origin career after 28 appearances for Queensland.
Along with fellow Maroons stalwart Matt Scott, Boyd was a high profile axing from Queensland's losing Origin I side, dropped on form for the first time since debuting in 2008.
Walters said he had only found out about Boyd's decision via the media on Tuesday morning, and was caught off-guard given the 30-year-old could force his way back into the Maroons fold with Slater still troubled by a hamstring injury.
"I'm not too sure what's happened with Darius," Walters told Sky Sports Radio.
"I had a conversation with him a couple of weeks ago and every indication (was) that he wanted to keep playing.
"I'm not too sure about that one. If that's the case I feel sorry for Darius because he has been a great player for Queensland.
"Again I think we wouldn't have any problems using him and I said that to him - if he gets his game back up to a level that he knows he can be at.
"Certainly for the opening 40 minutes on Sunday (against Melbourne) he was back to his best, he was really good."
The abrupt end to Boyd's Queensland career now means 129 Origin caps have exited the Maroons ranks in the last 12 months, with Cameron Smith (42 appearances), Johnathan Thurston (37) and Cooper Cronk (22) all retiring in the past year.
The fact Walters was not informed of Boyd's decision will also only fuel rumours of a rift between the Broncos captain and the Queensland hierarchy.
Walters denied any suggestion of sour grapes from Boyd when he brought Kalyn Ponga and Anthony Milford into his game one camp once Slater was ruled out through injury.
Boyd had been invited to join Queensland's training camp in the week leading into Origin I, but had already booked a family holiday to New Zealand and opted to stick to his travel plans after being told Slater was hopeful of playing through the injury.
Slater is no certainty to play for the Storm against Newcastle on Sunday, with the club unwilling to risk their veteran No.1 given the recurring nature of his hamstring injury.
With Queensland selecting their squad for the must-win June 24 standalone clash this Sunday, another week of speculation over Slater's fitness looms in the lead-up to game two.
"Obviously Billy Slater if he's fit will come back into the side at fullback," Walters said.
"We'll give Billy every chance to play. I had concerns with Billy all week and we were never over the line with him starting for us in Origin I."
The Maroons have a number of options and headaches around the all-important fullback role.
Cowboys star Michael Morgan performed strongly off a limited preparation in Slater's place at the MCG, however he too is carrying a persistent groin injury that ruled him out of North Queensland's loss to Parramatta on Saturday.
Ponga meanwhile has a wave of support for his inclusion as either the starting No.1 or a utility off the bench, with Walters admitting the Newcastle livewire could force his hand with the series on the line.
"He was very much in the picture for game one and nothing's changed from my point of view," Walters said.
"I'm not going to say he's in the side but he's doing everything that he needs (to), to be selected, so it will be hard to ignore him on Sunday when we sit down to select the team."
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