On Saturday afternoon, Ronaldo Mulitalo was set to make his State of Origin debut in a Queensland side desperate to turn around a Game 1 thumping.
By the time Sunday morning rolled around, an obviously disappointed Mulitalo had taken himself out of Game 2.
What happened in between, and in the years leading up to Saturday night will be a black mark on Origin eligibility rules. Not only that, but they present serious questions around how it was allowed to happen.
The Cronulla winger has played for Queensland at both under-18, and under-20 level. Under the NRL's representative flowchart, that should automatically allow him to play for Queensland.
Except, he should never have played at that level in the first place. It should have been picked up by the NRL, the QRL or the NSWRL before Saturday.
For players born outside of Australia to play Origin, the key rule is that they must be residing in either New South Wales or Queensland by their 13th birthday.
That wasn't the case for the 21-year-old, who was closer to 14 than 13 when he moved to Australia.
And yet, as first reported by George Clarke for Fox Sports today, Mulitalo's contracts should never have allowed him to be picked. The critical element relates to the winger clearly stating he moved to Australia and played rugby league for the first time at the age of 14.
And so, with that not being picked up and Mulitalo believing he was eligible after playing for Queensland junior teams, the seeds were sown for Saturday's explosion of process.
It was Saturday when Reece Walsh, picked to make an Origin debut at fullback after just seven first grade games, went down in the captains run at Lang Park. With the wheels now in motion, Mulitalo was called into the team from the reserves list to make his debut, Valentine Holmes shuffling to fullback to cover the loss of Walsh after playing Game 1.
By the early hours of the evening, the wheels were turning, with Twitter users questioning whether Mulitalo should be playing or not.
Why is no one in the media reporting on the fact QLD are selecting a player that is not eligible?
Ronaldo Mulitalo came to Aust at age 14, you need to be in Aust before 13, making him ineligible for QLD.@BuzzRothfield @AndrewVossy @awebster1975 @NRL @IntRL @NZRL_Kiwis
— Duke25 (@Duke2517) June 26, 2021
Brought to prominence by prominent rugby league journalist Steve Mascord, it was just hours later when the NRL began to investigate.
— ⚡Steve Mascord☠️ (@SteveMascord) June 26, 2021
NSW Rugby League have formally raised concerns with the NRL over Ronaldo Mulitalo’s eligibility for Queensland. Oh mama, it’s Origin eve drama at its best. This is moving fast
— Brent Read (@brentread_7) June 26, 2021
Essentially, the claim was that Mulitalo was only "eligible" for Origin because he had represented Queensland junior teams when he was ineligible. Had he played, it would have opened up an almighty can of worms.
Could a state roam New Zealand and the Pacific Islands for 18 and 19-year-olds, offer them cash to play junior Origin and make them a Blue or Maroon for life?
Aiming to protect their showpiece event, it took just over 12 hours for the NRL to investigate the issue, Mulitalo eventually pulling the plug on his own accord.
Not wanting to open his adopted state up to the potential of a protest or take away from their matchday preparations, Mulitalo was replaced by Xavier Coates, who had originally been dropped at around 10:30am on matchday morning.
Queensland coach Paul Green was among those to blast the NRL's handling of the incident post-game, while New South Wales' former captain Paul Gallen couldn't quite wrap his head around it.
"All the information that is available to us, he was eligible to play," said Green in the post-match press conference.
"He signed his last two contracts, and in that, he signed his eligibility to say he was yes for Queensland. That's part of your contract. That's part of the process. We don't register contracts, we aren't apart of that process. We just get a list off the database that says their eligible."
With Queensland beaten by a combined score of 76-6 across the two Origin games so far, they will be looking at major changes for Game 3, and there is still some hope Mulitalo may yet be able to play.
NRL CEO Andrew Abdo told Channel 9's broadcast last night that there was a chance for Mulitalo, who has eight tries in five games this year, to play Game 3 provided relevant documentation can be sourced and checked.