Toa Samoa and Queensland veteran Josh Papalii has announced his immediate retirement from State of Origin football, less than two weeks before the 2023 series opener.
Toa Samoa and Canberra prop Papalii has been a Maroons stalwart, playing 23 Origin matches, more than any other active player, since his debut in 2013.
He appeared set to be an automatic inclusion once again, having earned selection in every Origin game for which he was available since the beginning of the 2017 series.
Instead, the 31-year-old makes an abrupt exit from the Origin arena to pave the way for the next generation of forwards and focus on his commitments with the Raiders.
He informed Queensland Maroons Head Coach Billy Slater of his decision earlier in the week and joins Raiders teammate and NSW utility Jack Wighton in withdrawing from Origin consideration.
“I’ve loved every minute of my time playing for Queensland and representing the state, and I have memories from my time with the Maroons I will never forget,” Papalii said.
“I want to thank all of the coaches over the years that have given me the opportunity to play for Queensland and all of the players who I have taken the field with.”
Unlike the Blues, the Maroons have a wealth of strong options in the middle of the park, with Patrick Carrigan, Tino Fa’asuamaleaui, Tom Flegler, Corey Horsburgh, Lindsay Collins and Christian Welch all in the mix for game one.
Ahead of his second series in charge, Slater thanked Papalii for his commitment to the Maroon jersey.
“I was fortunate to feel both the presence Papa gave as a teammate and the confidence he gave me as a coach,” Slater said.
“Josh’s commitment and performance in his last Origin game typified his career in Maroon – heart, selfless and committed to his team… a warrior of the Origin arena.”