State of Origin captains play down rivalry
Rival captains Cameron Smith and Paul Gallen have played down talk today’s State of Origin clash could erupt into an all-out brawl following a bitter build up to game two.
Smith’s Queensland side arrived in Sydney yesterday fired up by New South Wales coach Ricky Stuart’s weekend column, in which he attacked their “smugness and their fake graciousness in victory”.
Likewise, Gallen and Co, who must win to prevent the shield heading north for a seventh successive year, are fuming at being labelled whingers by Maroons boss Mal Meninga.
It’s all set the stage for a fiery encounter at ANZ Stadium. However, in what’s sure to disappoint the purists of the annual interstate clash, Smith insisted it wouldn’t be his side that start the fireworks.
“Look, we don’t sit around camp or go to training sessions thinking ‘right boys, what are we going to do when a stink is on’,” the crafty hooker said. “We’re not about that, we’re about playing football and that’s what we worry about first. But if it happens, we’ll be there to back each other up.”
Gallen claimed the pre-match bickering came with the territory and added the Blues’ main focus was on squaring the series.
“That’s Origin, it’s all part of the banter,” he said of Stuart’s comments. “The hatred between the two states brings out those emotions.
“Every player is going to spill blood for their state. I am sure if that comes into the game, we’ll be part of it.” Meanwhile, Meninga admitted his side has to show plenty of improvement from Melbourne if they’re to stop the Blues from forcing a decider.
The Maroons were under the pump for most of the second half but still managed scrape out an 18-10 victory. But the coach believes they may not be so lucky this time round.
“They were close in game one and we’re expecting a torrid affair,” he said. “We’ll have to hang in for 80 minutes and we’re prepared to do that.”
>> State of Origin, game two live from 1.30pm on OSN Sports 1HD