Joseph Sua'ali'i sent off after late hit on Reece Walsh

2024 Men
2024 Men's State of Origin - NSW v QLD: Game 1 Joseph Sua'ali'i sent off

New South Wales will have to play out the match with 12 men after debutant Joseph Sua'ali'i was sent off in the seventh minute for a late tackle that knocked out Queensland fullback Reece Walsh.

Referee Ashley Klein made the decision to send the NSW player off for the remainder of the match instead of opting for 10 minutes in the sin bin, but there was no real choice as the hit was high, late and resulted in a concussion.

Referee Ashley Klein said:

“I don’t want you to say a word. Very dangerous action, direct contact to the head with the shoulder, you’re off.”

The Daily Telegraph referred to Sua'ali'i as a "rugby defector" as he is leaving Rugby League at season's end.

Queensland coach Billy Slater immediately deployed interchange player Selwyn Cobbo with Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow moving to fullback and 18th man Felise Kaufusi activated, while the Blues are restricted to 16 men.

Reece Walsh returned to the bench after recovering in the rooms, having actually passed his assessment. However, he is in concussion protocols and cannot return to the game because he was assessed as Category One on the field, per Channel Nine.

Queensland had already been in control of the contest with the opening try and a penalty, but NSW hit back after Sua'ali'i's send-off, scoring through James Tedesco.

However, the Maroons steadied and went on the offence themselves with two tries by Tabuai-Fidow, with Valentine Holmes perfect from the kicking tee, booting four from four conversions.

Surprisingly, it was the Blues who had the glut of possession and territory from there, but they couldn't capitalise.

Queensland led 20-6 at half-time and it looked hopeless for NSW from here.

App download animated image Get the free App now