Queensland Origin star Jai Arrow has been suspended for game three and is facing a $35,000 fine for allegedly breaching COVID-19 protocols by bringing an "unregistered guest" into Maroons camp.
Arrow has been accused of breaking NRL biosecurity rules by inviting the guest into the team hotel and was served with a breach notice by the game's governing body on Thursday.
The Rabbitohs lock is facing a two-game suspension and fine that would rule him out of both game three and South Sydney's round 18 clash against Canterbury.
Arrow will also undergo a 14-day isolation period at home, with Queensland Health authorities advised of the breach as soon as the NRL became aware of the incident.
Both NSW and Queensland are observing the NRL's level-four Apollo protocols in camp, which stipulate players can only leave their homes, or in this case their team set-up, to attend training or shop for essential items.
No visitors from outside the COVID-19 bubble are permitted to enter.
“I know I have let a lot of people down, including my teammates, coaching staff and fans right across the rugby league community,” Arrow said in a statement on the QRL website.
“For this I am truly sorry. I have fully cooperated with the NRL Integrity Unit, and I understand the scrutiny and criticism coming my way.”
QRL managing director Robert Moore supported the swift action taken by the NRL, and also acknowledged the manner in which Maroons staff dealt with the situation once they became aware of the protocol breach.
I know I have let a lot of people down, including my teammates, coaching staff and fans right across the rugby league communityJai Arrow
Arrow, 25, has been a mainstay of Queensland sides since his 2018 debut, playing nine from a possible 11 Origins in that time and starting at lock this series.
The Maroons have already lost bruising back-rower David Fifita, who failed in his bid to beat a one-game suspension for a late hit on Tuesday night.
Game-two rookie Francis Molo and Broncos middle Thomas Flegler were named as 18th and 20th men respectively in Queensland's Origin squad, and shape as likely bench replacements for the July 14 clash in Newcastle.
NRL CEO Andrew Abdo said the NRL’s Apollo team had acted swiftly to minimise risk to the Queensland Community and the remainder of the Queensland playing squad.
"In our view this is a clear breach of our biosecurity protocols, Jai has been placed into isolation from the squad and will return home to Sydney," he said.
"There are no excuses for breaching the protocols, they are our licence to continue playing – players have to comply, or we will all face the consequences.
"I want to be very clear, any material deliberate repeat offence by a player will result in us removing that player from the approved bubble roster.
There are no excuses for breaching the protocolsAndrew Abdo
"I’d like to thank Queensland Health for their ongoing assistance in managing the situation and ensuring community health and safety."
He has five working days to respond to the breach notice and the NRL will offer him wellbeing support.
Arrow played at prop in game one of the series in Townsville before being used as a second-rower in the Origin II loss at Suncorp Stadium. The 25-year-old had been named at lock for the series finale in Newcastle on Wednesday.
He made his Origin debut in 2018 and has racked up nine appearances for the Maroons.
Arrow made his NRL debut for Brisbane in 2016, playing 24 games, before making another 56 appearances for the Titans in a three-year stint before joining Souths this season, winning 10 of his 13 outings with the Rabbitohs.