David Fifta will race the clock to feature in November's State of Origin series after the Queensland backrower opted on Monday to have surgery on his injured ankle.
The Gold Coast-bound star has played his last NRL game for Brisbane, injured in a "hip drop" tackle by Parramatta's Junior Paulo, who was charged for the incident.
"David saw a surgeon today, and it was decided that the best course of action is for David to have surgery to repair his ankle," Broncos' head of performance Paul Devlin said.
"The surgery will be completed in the coming days".
Attempting to stave off a third-straight series loss, it's a major headache for Queensland coach Kevin Walters given the injury is likely to sideline the 20-year-old until at least the Adelaide opener on November 4.
But even if he misses that clash in about six weeks, Fifita could be part of Walters' camp and push for a game two return in Sydney on November 11 or Brisbane's potential decider on November 18.
Carrying an injured player into camp will be risky this year though, given no squad replacements will be possible due to biosecurity protocols related to COVID-19.
Jordan Riki will replace the Broncos' young gun in the side to face North Queensland this Thursday.
"He's got plenty of talent," Brisbane captain Alex Glenn said.
"I've got so much faith that he's going to be an elite athlete in the future and it's exciting for him to get a starting position against the Cowboys this week."
Australian Associated Press