TARIQ SIMS's State of Origin dream is over after the rising North Queensland star was taken to hospital with a suspected broken leg last night.
Only included in Ricky Stuart's NSW squad as 18th man yesterday afternoon as cover for captain Paul Gallen, Sims was left clutching his lower left leg in pain hours later in the Cowboys' 30-28 win over Penrith at Dairy Farmers Stadium.
Sims collided with Panther Cameron Ciraldo while trying to ankle tap Travis Burns as he scored in the 53rd minute.
The 22-year-old was only playing his sixth match of the season after returning from a horrific leg break during a clash against Cronulla last season and had gained the attention of NSW selectors with some powerful form.
The seriousness of the injury was immediately apparent, teammate Glenn Hall calling over medical staff quickly and the back-rower was taken from the field on a stretcher and transported to nearby Townsville Hospital.
It is believed he might have broken his leg in the same place as last year and his condition put a serious dampener on the Cowboys' thrilling win.
The victory came without the Cowboys' Origin quartet of Johnathan Thurston, Matt Scott, Brent Tate and James Tamou.
The injury appeared to deflate the Cowboys, who were leading 24-18 at the time following two quick tries to Gavin Cooper and Antonio Winterstein after the break.
The Panthers found themselves with numbers down the left-hand side, allowing centre Brad Tighe to equalise with 14 minutes left.
Josh Mansour put his side in front on 69 minutes, benefiting from some quick hands to beat Matt Bowen in the corner with a leaping effort.
But Sims' older brother Ashton restored the Cowboys' lead on 73 minutes, pouncing on a loose ball knocked back by recalled winger Kalifa Faifai Loa as he jumped for a Bowen bomb and gave his side the win.
Coach Neil Henry said it was hard to celebrate the win after Sims' injury.
''The best scenario you can hope for is a broken fibula but it didn't look too good,'' Henry said.
''He's a young kid and he's got plenty of footy ahead of him and obviously we're going to be missing him for a while.''
Henry said the only positive of the night was claiming the win.
''It was a fairly scrappy game but the consolation is we've got two points and it wasn't a great performance.''
A furious Ivan Cleary said his side had beaten themselves after losing the match right at the end.
''Whether it was penalties and at the start of the second half a few really cheap errors, conceding tries on the last tackle … and we probably only needed a decent share of possession in that second half and we would have been OK,'' Cleary said. AAP