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Mal Meninga's anti-Blues tirade is based on Fozzie logic

Date

Chief Sports Writer, The Sydney Morning Herald

View more articles from Andrew Webster

Fozzie logic: The Maroons have had their fair share of off-field troubles under coach Mal Meninga.

Fozzie logic: The Maroons have had their fair share of off-field troubles under coach Mal Meninga. Photo: Getty Images

The pre-eminent stand-up comedian of our time is not Jerry Seinfeld, Eddie Murphy or Chris Rock. It's Mal Meninga.

“I’m very thankful that the quality of player in the Queensland side puts the game first,” Meninga declared in a not-so-veiled swipe at discarded Blues halfback Mitchell Pearce. “They understand their responsibilities and don’t jeopardise their positions or opportunity to be selected in the Queensland side and that makes me very happy.

Nate Myles was banned after an infamous incident in a hotel hallway.

Nate Myles was banned after an infamous incident in a hotel hallway. Photo: Getty Images

“Part of that responsibility is setting the right examples. This group of young men want to play for Queensland. I’m extremely proud of who we have in our team and that’s why they get picked all the time.”

As Fozzie Bear would say, Wocka-wocka-wocka!

Is this the same Mal Meninga who was bounced out of Brisbane's Down Under Bar during an Origin camp last year while celebrating the birthdays of Maroons stars Billy Slater and Cameron Smith? For trying to pour himself a beer? Behind the bar?

Fullback: Jarryd Hayne (Parramatta) Click for more photos

NSW squad for Origin I

The 17 players who have been tasked with ending Queensland's eight-year winning streak in State of Origin. Photo: Getty Images

Is Meninga referring to the same Queensland side that contained four players accused of dabbling in the potent cocktail of Red Bull and Stilnox for the dead rubber in 2009?

The same Queensland side that, the year before, featured three of its players - including current winger Darius Boyd and injured forward Sam Thaiday - who found themselves in an intimate position with a female in a toilet cubicle?

The same Queensland side that features Nate Myles, who has had a chequered past with alcohol, including a six-week ban while at the Roosters for defecating in the hallway of a Terrigal hotel?

Wocka-wocka-wocka!

Meninga's backhander to Pearce and the NSWRL is up there with Willie Mason's assertion last week that there are no excuses for young players to get caught up in alcohol-related incidents ... two months after he was charged and convicted and banned from driving for six months for drink driving.

Wocka-wocka-wocka!

The Origin circus is underway, with the Maroons coach firing the first of many missiles.

NSW coach Laurie Daley was too clever to wade into the debate after the Blues' side everyone seemed to know was announced at a luncheon on Tuesday, only offering that Queensland players "have had issues, too" and that "it's not just NSW".

With every series that passes, the excitement, hype and downright drivel that surrounds the interstate clash grows and grows. And, yes, we reptiles of the press are as much to blame for it as anyone.

Take it from someone who knows: there are only so many ways you can write that NSW will win this year, NSW could win this year and then, er, NSW hasn't won this year. Again.

Daley was asked about Pearce's omission early into his media conference on Tuesday.

"Is his heart in it?" a reporter asked. "Did he want to play?"

Get ready for six weeks of breathtaking questions such as these.

While most discussion was about the contentious selection of Bulldogs halves Trent Hodkinson and Josh Reynolds - and the sacking of Pearce and therefore Roosters teammate James Maloney - it is the forward pack that will decide whether the Blues can cause the greatest Origin upset since Paul Vautin's Maroons in 1995.

If those rookie halves are to have any chance of putting doubt in a Queensland defensive line, it will have to come off the back of a dominant forward display from NSW.

They get that off a dominant Bulldogs pack, which can overwhelm and bully the opposition in the NRL.

In Origin, it rarely happens - for either side - such is the physical nature of the contest. But the Blues must find a way or Hodkinson and Reynolds will become a future trivia question.

James Tamou has been outstanding at times for the Blues in the last two years. Sometimes not. Aaron Woods has much to prove at this level, despite his form for the Tigers this season.

Storm veteran Ryan Hoffman is probably the form backrower of the comp. And he brings untold Origin experience.

There is no Greg Bird but Beau Scott is cut from the same angry-headed cloth. No Queenslander will be putting Beauy in the corner.

Captain Paul Gallen will play himself to a standstill, but also needs to realise he can't do it all on his own.

The bench forwards of Merrin, Watmough and Lewis are NSW staples these days, but the re-emergence of a prehistoric beast could terrorise the Queenslanders, or at the very least make them very tired.

Whether Tony Williams lives up to his nickanme of T-Rex - or at least plays as he has been this season - is critical to NSW's success in the first game.

Notwithstanding, of course, those fine, upstanding Queensland players who aren't just exceptional human beings - according to Mal Meninga - but have shown in the last eight years they can play a bit of footy, too.

53 comments so far

  • Rats and filth!

    Commenter
    Bluebag
    Location
    Boggo Rd
    Date and time
    May 20, 2014, 3:20PM
    • Mal tends to spend too much time out in the sun this time of year, give us another "rats and filth" episode please !

      Commenter
      Anthony
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      May 20, 2014, 3:42PM
      • This is all getting a bit tedious isn't it. Why doesn't Mal go back to his old Policeman habits, just don't have him called to your place if you have a noise complaint at you party, not the second time any rate. Have to get new speakers from what I heard. Nothing to hear then, no noise complaint that night. Good one Mal, what a great guy and an icon of virtue!!

        Commenter
        BrisVegas
        Date and time
        May 20, 2014, 3:49PM
        • Mal Meninga the club coach - FAILURE. Mal Meninga the politician - lasted 29 seconds. FAILURE. Everyone knows that Michael Hagan is the actual coach of Queensland, and that when you have the likes of a Thurston, Smith, Slater, Inglis and Cronk, they would likely win without any coach. Enough already of the siege-mentality, Mal.

          Commenter
          Realist
          Date and time
          May 20, 2014, 3:53PM
          • Agree. Meninga is the luckiest coach in the history of sport. My grandmother could successfully coach the Qld State of Origin side with their current crop of players, and she's been dead for 15 years!

            Commenter
            Phil
            Date and time
            May 20, 2014, 4:01PM
          • nope, AFL's Malcolm Blight with the Adelaide Crows is the luckiest coach ever. Went to a team that was going to win two no matter who or what coached them. Went to a struggling club a bit later, left very soon after. Much too hard.

            Commenter
            PB
            Location
            Sydney
            Date and time
            May 20, 2014, 4:44PM
        • Normally I would say that Big Mal had earned the right to say whatever he liked. After all his side has won eight straight. That should bestow a certain amount of credibility,

          Unfortunately his side has done it with ring ins in their number. It is hard to accept Qld fielding Israel Folau - a NSW born and bred player of Tongan parentage. However, he did move to Qld with his family at the age of 15 so under the anomalous rules in place he qualifies for the Maroons even though he was not born there, did not grow up there and has spent very little of his life there.

          But it is impossible to accept that Greg Inglis should be playing for the Maroons. He too was born in NSW, grew up in NSW and even played his first senior rugby league in NSW at Hunter Sports High in Newcastle. His connections with Qld are, at best, tenuous. Even by the odd rules of SOO he should be playing for NSW having played his first football after the age of 16 in his home state of NSW.

          Clearly the whole eligibility rules are a total farce. Wasn't that the whole reason for the SOO concept in the first place - so that players should not be lining up against their home state? So that the likes of Artie Beetson and Kerry Boustead would play in their home colours rather than against them?

          It has devalued the whole State of Origin concept and deprived it of it's creditbility. So Mal's rant is as meaningless to me as the state of origin eligibility criteria.

          Commenter
          Newy
          Location
          knightscastle@hotmail.com
          Date and time
          May 20, 2014, 3:53PM
          • Newy, have you considered that maybe these players desire to play for Qld relates to the inferior culture of the NSW setup as Mal alludes to?

            Commenter
            Coopies
            Date and time
            May 20, 2014, 4:23PM
          • Actually, why IS Inglis playing for the banana-benders?

            Commenter
            Sir Noddy of Glebe
            Location
            Inner Western Sydney, near Greg Inglis
            Date and time
            May 20, 2014, 4:29PM
          • Agreed Newy. Mal is just trying to ramp up some interest because SOO, while still a great spectacle, is a bit of a joke. I understand the players want the origin experience and, of course, its generous pay cheque so the best thing to do is have a 4 team comp consisting of QLD, NSW, NZ and a combined islanders (Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Cook Islands, Papua etc). This would allow players to truly represent their "home" and grow the game in other territories at the same time. I just laugh at Tamou and Inglis playing for their "states of origin" - great spectacle but SOO? Keep trying Mal.

            Commenter
            Ray Man
            Location
            BM
            Date and time
            May 20, 2014, 5:03PM

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