A shattered Billy Slater says his decision to miss Wednesday night's State of Origin series decider was the toughest he's had to make.
Queensland coach Mal Meninga confirmed reports that the champion fullback would miss game three at Suncorp Stadium, with South Sydney superstar Greg Inglis to wear the No 1 jersey.
"It's the toughest decision I've had to make," said a dejected Slater on the Queensland Rugby League's official website qrl.com.au.
Melbourne's Dane Nielsen comes into the centres for just his third game for Queensland.
Slater, who has been a match-winner for the Maroons in the past, made a bold bid to overcome a knee injury suffered in Queensland's 16-12 second game loss in Sydney earlier this month.
However he made the tough call not to play after a private fitness test on Thursday in Melbourne because he wanted the Queensland players to have ample time to make the adjustment.
Medical opinion was that Slater could risk his entire NRL season by playing before his posterior cruciate ligament injury had been properly strengthened and healed.
Queensland officials confirmed North Queensland's Matt Bowen and South Sydney forward Dave Taylor had been released from camp to play for their NRL clubs at the weekend.
Bowen was on a flight to New Zealand with his Cowboys teammates early on Friday morning for Sunday's clash with the Warriors in Auckland.