Gillett hands Lowe first Qld jersey
Queensland's Maroons' Ethan Lowe runs out onto ANZ Stadium for their captains run in Sydney, Tuesday, July 9. The New South Wales Blues take on Queensland's Maroons in game 3 of the State of Origin series at ANZ Stadium tonight (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)
In a bittersweet moment, Queensland veteran Matt Gillett has presented Ethan Lowe with his first State of Origin jersey just hours after surrendering his own due to injury.
After some initial confusion, South Sydney back-rower Lowe has been officially confirmed to make his Origin debut in Wednesday's series decider in Sydney after an emotional Maroons jersey ceremony in Parramatta.
On a rollercoaster day for Queensland, Gillett was on Tuesday initially given until kick-off to overcome a groin strain only to be ruled out moments later by coach Kevin Walters after the back-rower broke down in the captain's run warm-up.
Gillett later cut a forlorn figure standing in his team tracksuit as he watched Queensland go through their paces at ANZ Stadium.
But the 20-game Origin veteran was all smiles just hours later after being asked to hand Lowe his first Queensland jersey at the Tuesday night team function.
There was speculation that late call-up Dylan Napa may leapfrog Lowe and play in Origin III but Gillett sealed the Rabbitohs forward's selection with four heartfelt words.
"You deserve this jersey," Gillett said to an ecstatic Lowe at the presentation.
Lowe, 28, will make his Maroons debut along with Christian Welch and Corey Norman after impressing in his first year with South Sydney following six seasons at North Queensland including their 2015 premiership win.
"This is what all of us in this room have dreamed about, to get this jersey," Lowe said at the presentation.
"You guys all have faith in me. I can't wait to get out there and do my job."
While Lowe was emotional, Norman was closest to tears when handed his Queensland No.6 jersey by Maroons hooker and St George Illawarra teammate Ben Hunt.
"I want to thank Kevvie and everyone who chose me to be in this team," Norman said.
"I'm truly honoured and blessed to wear this jersey. This means a lot to me and my family. I'm so proud."
Maroons prop Josh Papalii was given the honour of handing Melbourne front-rower Welch his first Queensland jersey.
It capped a remarkable turnaround for the 24-year-old, who feared he had suffered a season-ending knee injury in May.
"I've been through a bit with my knee. You kept picking me in that emerging squad and I'm grateful for that," Welch told Queensland coach Kevin Walters.
"I'll be doing everything I can for the team to help us get us over the line."
Lowe and Welch are set to make their Origin debuts off the bench with Norman to combine with captain Daly Cherry-Evans in the halves.
© AAP 2019