New Zealand rookie Dallin Watene-Zelezniak has been ruled out of what would've been his Test debut after coach Stephen Kearney confirmed the teenage star had suffered a small fracture in his right foot.
Dragons utility Gerard Beale will take his spot on the right wing, while Broncos fullback Josh Hoffman has been rushed into the 24-man squad for the rest of the tournament.
"Unfortunately we had Dallin scanned yesterday [and] he had a bit of a mishap at the beach on Monday morning where he felt he rolled his ankle," Kearney told reporters on Wednesday.
"So we got that scanned yesterday and ended up that he's got a small fracture there. So he has to withdraw from the competition and subsequently we've brought in Josh Hoffman."
It is a cruel blow for the Penrith winger, who was about to cap off a stunning rookie season with a Test jumper alongside clubmate Dean Whare.
"Obviously he's very disappointed. We named a side yesterday morning and he was going to make his debut," Kearney said.
"We got him scanned around lunchtime and got results back yesterday afternoon, so obviously he's fairly disappointed. As an 18-year-old, you wouldn't think so, [but] he bounced back from it fairly well but I could tell underneath he's disappointed not to be playing this weekend."
Beale had been training in place of Watene-Zelezniak for the early part of the week, and beats out veteran Manu Vatuvei and Sharks winger Sosaia Feki.
"We feel it's the fit for us in this game. Manu especially has got a great deal of experience, which [made it] a tough decision," he said.
"But for this game, we've decided that Gerard's the best fit for us. His experience at fullback, on the wing, and also in the centres – we just feel it's the most comfortable fit for the group this weekend against the Australians."
Hoffman, who has been granted permission by Brisbane to look elsewhere for an opportunity to play fullback, was a surprise omission from the original 24-man side, with his manager indicating Hoffman was considering switching allegiances.
"You'd have to ask Josh Hoffman that about his manager. For me there was never any doubt," Kearney said.
"Sometimes when you get people talking about you, it can get the wrong message. I know Josh was certainly disappointed to miss the 24-man squad initially, but very, very pleased to be part of it now."
This article was first published on nrl.com