The Queensland Rugby League is facing potential sanctions after fielding an extra player for almost 30 seconds during State of Origin Game 1. This is the second interchange error in recent weeks in the NRL. South Sydney was fined $15,000 for their game-day mistakes against the Broncos in round nine. Maroons forward Lindsay Collins ran onto the field while back-rower Tom Gilbert was still in play, resulting in a basic substitution error.
Despite the error, the Maroons went on to win the game in one of the most remarkable wins in State of Origin history. However, the NRL traditionally takes a dim view of teams fielding extra players, even for a brief period. In 2004, the Broncos lost competition points when Corey Parker, their illegal replacement, entered the field despite warnings from the match official. Canterbury was also docked two points for fielding an extra player in a game against Penrith 14 years ago.
Queensland coach Billy Slater said that they made the call to get Lindsay on the field thinking that Tom Gilbert was off the field on the other side. He thought Gilbert was taken off after his shoulder popped out and was in a pretty bad way. South Sydney was also slugged a fine for having Jai Arrow run onto the field while teammate Tom Burgess waited for 20 seconds before exiting. Rabbitohs officials apologized for the blunder.
The Collins-Gilbert drama had no impact on the overall result, with Queensland winger Murray Taulagi making a remarkable try-saving tackle on James Tedesco on the subsequent set. The decision to deny NSW back-rower Tyson Frizell a try by the Bunker despite replays appearing to show the ball had kissed the turf under a Taulagi tackle was also sent for review by Klein. Bunker official Grant Atkins claimed there was insufficient evidence to overturn the decision.
Despite Gilbert’s injury and the interchange error, Queensland’s win stands in the record books.