Queensland Maroons Training Session
GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 06: Felise Kaufusi during a Queensland Maroons State of Origin training session at Sanctuary Cove on June 06, 2022 in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Maroons head coach Billy Slater has confirmed that backrower Felise Kaufusi will not feature during the series decider at Suncorp Stadium next Wednesday, with the 30-year-old unable to return in time for camp commencement.

Having played in the opening pair of 'State v State, Mate v Mate' clashes this year, Kaufusi was forced to jet out to Los Angeles earlier this week after his father fell ill.

Within a press conference released ahead of their eventual loss to Manly, the Melbourne Storm claimed that the forward had left with their blessings.

A timeline for the veteran's return was publically provided by the AAMI Park outfit.

Though recent squad selections would suggest that Kaufusi would have been a certain starter for his side heading into the all-important clash on home soil, Slater was willing to concede on Wide World of Sports' that his former teammate had been taken out of the frame.

While Kaufusi remains by the side of his father who is battling a serious leg infection, a place has opened in Slater's pack for Cowboy Tom Gilbert, with News Corp reporting on Sunday afternoon that the 21-year-old is set to make his Origin debut.

Gilbert's versatility as a forward and seasonal means of more than 114 metres by foot and 30 tackles have acted as his CV, with the soon-to-be Dolphin bettering each of these markers in North Queensland's win over Brisbane on Saturday.

TOWNSVILLE, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 06: Tom Gilbert of the Cowboys runs the ball during the round four NRL match between the North Queensland Cowboys and the Cronulla Sharks at QCB Stadium on June 06, 2020 in Townsville, Australia. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

Slater is also said to be toying with further alterations to his pack, with The Courier Mail claiming that Raiders bruiser Josh Papalii could well face the chop following a pair of muted performances from limited minutes.

Further reports have also suggested that fellow veteran Dane Gagai could well be replaced by Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow after failing to curb Jack Wighton in Game 1 and missing 18 tackles so far this series.

The selection headaches are set to continue for the Storm legend, with Cameron Munster (shoulder), Kalyn Ponga (concussion) and Reece Walsh (COVID) all behind the eight-ball at the minute.

This potential for further alterations has seen David Fifita, Beau Fermor and yet another Cowboy in Jeremiah Nanai enter the selection frame.