IN PAIN: Brent Tate leaves the field. Picture: Getty ImagesSTRAIGHT away, Brent Tate feared the worst.
Still, the evergreen Queensland winger bravely refused to be taken off on a medicab despite suffering a career-threatening fourth serious knee injury at ANZ Stadium on Wednesday night.
The way Tate saw it, if this game was to be his last, he was going to leave on his terms.
‘‘He was in a lot of pain. But he didn’t want the medicab,’’ Queensland doctor Roy Saunders said.
The heartache over NSW ending the Maroons’ record eight-year State of Origin reign with a 6-4 victory in game two on Wednesday night was put into perspective for teammates after seeing a distraught Tate in the Queensland dressing rooms.
Unimpressed by Blues supporters booing Tate as he was helped from the field after falling awkwardly in a second-half tackle, Queensland teammates were further shattered when it appeared their worst fears were realised.
Tate confirmed yesterday that he had torn the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee.
The 32-year-old will consider his future when he returns to his North Queensland NRL club, where he is contracted until the end of 2015.
On a nightmare night for the Cowboys, they also lost prop Matt Scott to a facial fracture.
Scott, who remained in Sydney yesterday to have surgery, and Tate will miss North Queensland’s game against the Knights in Newcastle on Monday night.
Captain Johnathan Thurston is being treated for a corked thigh suffered in the Maroons’ loss to NSW, and he will be checked before the team leave Townsville on Sunday.
NSW prop James Tamou will be assessed by the club’s medical staff today.
A Cowboys spokesman said Scott would miss the third Origin game in Brisbane on July 9.
Watching Tate make the brave call to knock back the medicab and endure the painful off-field journey convinced some teammates that he could make yet another comeback.
‘‘That summed up the guy’s character,’’ Queensland prop Nate Myles said.
Tamou said: ‘‘I hope that’s not his last. I think he’ll come back and I hope he comes back.’’
The last time Tate damaged his ACL was in the 2010 Four Nations final when he was captured by TV cameras in the Suncorp Stadium sheds crying uncontrollably.
He defied the odds again to reclaim his Queensland and Test spots and was in such fine form he re-signed to play on for the Cowboys next year.
Tate had a target on his back in Origin II after earning the ire of NSW fans by criticising Josh Reynolds’s dangerous throw on him in game one.
The veteran outside back, who has a history of neck problems, revealed he had ‘‘never been more frightened in my life’’ during the lifting tackle after Knights forward Alex McKinnon’s career-ending spinal injury.
That was seen by the Blues faithful as a ploy to ensure Reynolds received a long suspension for the tackle.
‘‘He has copped a lot of flak over the last week. It’s disappointing for Tatey,’’ Myles said.
Queensland’s growing list of wounded for the series already included Cooper Cronk (broken arm), Josh Papalii (ankle) and Corey Parker (facial fracture).
Daly Cherry-Evans (knee), Greg Inglis (ankle) and Billy Slater (shoulder) played on Wednesday night after late fitness tests.
Knights high-performance manager Jeremy Hickmans said Newcastle Origin representatives Beau Scott (NSW) and Darius Boyd (Queensland) would be checked when they rejoined their NRL teammates at training today.
Hickmans said he had spoken to both players yesterday and neither reported significant injury concerns.