Valentine Holmes' State of Origin hopes could hinge on the NRL judiciary after he was put on report for a shoulder charge in North Queensland's 50-18 loss to Manly.
Holmes faces an anxious wait after leading with his shoulder as he tried to stop a Haumole Olakau'atu try on halftime at Brookvale on Friday night.
Even the lowest grading from the match review committee would result in Holmes needing to beat the charge at the NRL judiciary to avoid a two-match ban due to a similar incident last year.
While an early guilty plea would normally only result in a one-game ban for a grade-one charge, Holmes was suspended for a needless shoulder charge in 2020.
On that occasion, the shot on Brisbane's Jesse Arthars in the last minute of the Cowboys' final game of the year meant he missed the opening Origin clash at the end of the season.
The weighting from that offence remains on his record and would take a ban from one to two games for a grade-one offence.
Holmes was shifted from wing to fullback for Queensland's series-opening loss to NSW on Wednesday night after Kalyn Ponga withdrew through injury and he could now miss game 2 at Suncorp Stadium on June 27.
Manly and Queensland captain Daly Cherry-Evans was unsighted for Friday night's incident but was naturally concerned.
"That's not ideal, Val has played some really good footy for Origin," he said.
"I won't play hypotheticals yet but hopefully there is no charge and if there is (one) hopefully he gets off."
Ponga is no certainty to recover from a groin injury in time to play in Origin II.
Holmes' hit was only the start of the Cowboys' woes.
They led 12-0 inside nine minutes, but then conceded 38 points in as many minutes later in the match.
Their right-side was carved apart, as newly-signed half Tom Dearden accounted for six of the side's 38 missed tackles.
Justin O'Neill also gave up four misses outside him while Scott Drinkwater was toyed with by Cherry-Evans on the other edge.
"It was a new combination (on the right), Tommy Gilbert hasn't been edge back row for a number of weeks," Cowboys coach Todd Payten said.
"Tommy (Dearden) is new to the team. The decision to put Justin O'Neill at centre instead of the wing because Javid (Bowen) has more experience as a winger and Justin as centre.
"It's what happens when you have new combinations, but we'll improve."
Australian Associated Press