The New Zealand Rugby League are now in a position to fulfil Sam Kasiano's representative football ambitions after Queensland neglected to select one of the NRL's rising stars for the State of Origin decider against New South Wales next week.
Despite suggestions the 21-year-old would today be named in the squad, Kasiano will be enjoying the Bulldogs bye week instead of joining the Maroons camp in anticipation of a clash with James Tamou, the Palmerston North-born prop who controversially pledged allegiance to the Kangaroos and NSW before April's Anzac test.
Front rower Kasiano, who qualified for Queensland after playing junior football in Brisbane, is now in line to make his test debut against Australia in the one-off trans-Tasman test at Townsville on October 13.
There is still a potential Kiwi flavour to the Maroons line-up for game three at Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium next Wednesday with South Sydney-bound Brisbane Broncos utility Ben Te'o in contention for a bench spot.
The Auckland-born 25-year-old has previously served as Queensland's 18th man - the former New Zealand age-group representative played for Samoa at the 2008 World Cup and two years later expressed a desire to play Origin rather than press for Kiwis selection.
Te'o is challenging Dave Taylor for a place among the four-man interchange; the bullocking Rabbitohs second rower lost his place in the starting line-up to Sam Thaiday, who returns from injury.
Corey Parker replaces the injured Ashley Harrison at lock but the chief injury concern for Queensland coach Mal Meninga is star fullback Billy Slater.
He suffered a knee injury during NSW's series-levelling victory in Sydney on June 13 and is considered doubtful.
Slater will remain in Melbourne working with Storm medical staff and will only go into camp if he rates himself a chance.
"Billy ran yesterday morning and he was very upbeat about that session so we are going to give him until the end of the week to make that final decision - Saturday at the latest," Meninga said.
"At this stage, we are very hopeful, but uncertain."
If Slater is ruled out Greg Inglis could shift to from centre to the custodian role he plays for Souths, prompting a recall for New Zealand Warriors-bound Storm back Dane Nielsen.
North Queensland veteran Matt Bowen is another option to start in the No 1 jersey and could also be kept on the bench as security if Slater starts and then aggravates his injury.
Bowen's involvement would be a further boost for the Warriors who host a Cowboys side on Sunday already weakened by the absence of Johnathan Thurston, Brent Tate, Tamou and Kangaroos front rower Matt Scott.
Scott will also be late joining the Queensland camp as he is grieving the loss of his mother Dianne. Her funeral is held tomorrow after she lost a prolonged battle with throat cancer.
"We just have to see where Matty is at the end of the week - there are some concerns there whether he is right to go," Meninga said.
Meanwhile, Te'o started his career in the Warriors development programme and then left for the Gold Coast where he studied at renowned rugby league nursery Keebra Park State High School.
He also trailed the school's best-known Kiwi student Benji Marshall to the Wests Tigers and then returned to Queensland and the Broncos in 2009.
Meninga said Te'o was close to making a long-awaited Origin debut.
"He's matured as a player and he's been going really well for the Broncos.
"I think we need Ben's aggression and speed. He can play a versatile role, we can play out wide and the back row like Matt Gillett does," he said.
If Te'o does feature he joins Craig Smith, Brad Thorn, Toni Carroll and Karmichael Hunt as "Queenslanders" who originated in New Zealand.
Queensland squad: Matt Bowen, Darius Boyd, Petero Civoniceva, Cooper Cronk, Matt Gillett, Ben Hannant, Justin Hodges, Greg Inglis, Nate Myles, Dane Nielsen, Corey Parker, Matt Scott, David Shillington, Billy Slater, Cameron Smith (captain), Brent Tate, David Taylor, Ben Te'o, Sam Thaiday, Johnathan Thurston (three to be omitted).
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