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No pulling punches for brutal rematch

Talking point: The infamous punch.

Talking point: The infamous punch. Photo: Getty Images

First Paul Gallen's fists of fury were ignored by the referees. Then his ring craft was virtually applauded by the feather duster-wielding match review committee. A two-week ban. One with an early plea. A parking fine for a hit-and-run.

So this horse has bolted. So fast that, by the time David Smith turned up to shut the stable door, he was left shovelling manure.

Far too late to start wagging fingers and warning of grave punishment for those planning reprisals in game two. By failing to act swiftly and decisively during and after game one, the bar for player conduct in this series has been set. It's so low that a triple-jointed gnat could not limbo beneath it.

Of course, Gallen v Nate Myles will have consequences. Just not those that more civilised souls felt entitled to anticipate.

Consequence 1: The Sharks were filleted and crumbed in Melbourne without their muscular leader. But Gallen's paltry penalty provided the bed rest Dr Daley might have prescribed for his hobbling skipper. A week off to rest a sore knee and allow the skin on the knuckles to heal. Punishment for Cronulla, reward for the Blues.

Consequence 2: Gallen's sentence for a seemingly premeditated - if not unprovoked - attack meant Origin's unwritten rule became law. Law of the jungle, actually.

Thus bloody retribution will be anticipated by the frothing crowd at Suncorp Stadium in a game where the referees have tied their own hands. After all, what ref would be so bold as to severely punish the Queenslanders for acts of vengeance when Gallen was not merely allowed to stay on the field after punching Myles, but was virtually chaired from it by the judiciary? Good luck to the man who marches Sam Thaiday in Brisbane after giving Gallen a free pass.

To that end, the Maroons were beaten on the field at ANZ Stadium, but have played a canny game off it. Rather than accuse and complain, they have grinned and nodded. Not because they felt Myles's aggressive play deserved a bunch of fives, but because they know they can unleash hell at home - and the officials are powerless to stop them.

Consequence 3: Origin II could be the most-watched game in history (the record TV audience is 2.626 million for game three last year). Gallen has made a far greater impact for his sport Australia-wide than he did on Myles's chin. Never mind that many viewers will expect a battle scene from Game of Thrones rather than an athletic contest.

Nine pledged not to show the Gallen haymakers, but doubtless it will milk the edgy lead-up like a prized heifer - as it is entitled to do. Again the violence of Origin has been sanctioned, so you could hardly accuse Nine of encouraging street violence by playing up the Gallen attack. The game's authorities took responsibility for any off-field ramifications when they turned a blind eye.

Consequence 4: There will not be enough scrutes in Brisbane to scrutinise Gallen before, during and after the game. He will have cameras in his face, taunts in his ears and a target on his back. Yet Queensland remain the outfit on the knife-edge.

Go too far - which, in fully sanctioned Origin terms, means producing an unlicensed machine gun - and they may be distracted. Who knows? They might even concede undisciplined penalties. Although if the Maroons are penalised for anything less than culpable homicide, Suncorp Stadium will be in flames by the final hooter.

Consequence 5: That inevitably counter-intuitive and socially irresponsible feeling. One that nourishes the neanderthals and trolls who have been spewing venom since Gallen's fists began to twitch.

As much as Origin should be about the brilliance of the athletes, and the many (legitimate) acts of physical strength and willpower, Gallen's brain explosion has lit a fuse under game two. This will be the most eagerly anticipated event this year. Call it a ''sporting event'' if you like. That's State of Origin. Sometimes a bit wrong, but always consequential.

Twitter: @rdhinds

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28 comments so far

  • zzzzzz.......Gal...Myl...personally doubt it`ll erupt for 2 reasons. Firstly, Qld can`t afford to get caught up in that, they`re better off throwing the ball to Inglis. Secondly, if it came down to that the NSW pack would be more than happy to oblige,a few noted scrappers there. Maybe this time a Qlder will actually fall down after being hit, didn`t seem to bother Myles one bit.
    I think the real story from Origin 1 is who was the pelican that organised the alleged entertainment. I trust that jokester is now working the graveyard shift at Maccas in the Cross.

    Commenter
    Middy of New please
    Location
    Ryde
    Date and time
    June 12, 2013, 12:20AM
    • Fair comments Middy, but my money is on a massive stink.

      Commenter
      cookup
      Date and time
      June 12, 2013, 7:42AM
  • Thaiday? What is he going to do apart from being third man in? You may as well have said hit man Tate.

    Commenter
    ctown westie
    Date and time
    June 12, 2013, 2:02AM
    • Great article Richard...glad to see someone else south of the Tweed River understands what Gallen has done.NSW have been the better side for the last two years.All we needed was to play footy and the drought was broken.Then along comes Captain Pillow Puncher and the Joke of a Judiciary and QLD remember why they hate us with that passion of theirs.

      Commenter
      Manon DeEdge
      Date and time
      June 12, 2013, 4:25AM
      • Actually, we never forgot. Gallen just brought it front and centre. Does anybody seriously think it won't be on in game two? First scrum. For sure. One in, all in.

        Commenter
        Rustic
        Date and time
        June 12, 2013, 12:27PM
    • I'm tired of this butt kissing journalism. Origin is rugby league at it's best, and while fighting shouldn't be there...it happens...and when it does, it's awesome, let them sort it out...it's theatre and it's testosterone...

      I don't fully understand the argument against Origin, stating that it encourages violence on the street...it's real life, not some perfect world where everyone can just get up and give each other a hug when they're angry...it happens everywhere, everyday...and it's a part of life...and watching our role models lose it on the field, shows that sometimes it's ok to lose our tempers and get angry...trying to make the game "perfect" (ie: where no one gets angry at any time or just book a therapist when they need to vent on the field) will only end in failure because it can never be perfect, especially in Origin!

      Stop the butt kissing journalism please!!

      Commenter
      MOIMOI87
      Location
      3rd Floor
      Date and time
      June 12, 2013, 6:13AM
      • I agree. Rugby League is a hard physical sport played by competitive young blokes. As in the real world, occasionally people lose their tempers and punches are thrown. You might not like it, but it's the reality of it. I suspect that the majority of league fans want the players to play with passion - it makes for a better contest. But that same passion and competitiveness is a 2-edged sword. Anybody who expects zero fighting in Origin games is being a tad naive.

        Commenter
        Noodles
        Date and time
        June 12, 2013, 11:44AM
    • yet another journo condoning violence in the game(or shame) whichever its your mentality. Another generation of young kids learning from their so called heroes. Great stuff - not - and what will happen when the kids of those who condone viiolence get hammered on their own sports fields? No answers to a simple question which has been asked across many forums this week.

      Commenter
      red
      Date and time
      June 12, 2013, 7:41AM
      • May I present a counter-argument?

        To my knowledge, there has been one fatality this year in rugby league, and it didn't result from a king hit, it was the result from a knock to the head during a tackle.

        Most of the serious injuries in the rugby codes do not occur because of fighting, they are the result of ordinary events in the ordinary run of play. The Panther's Sam McKendry broke his neck not from being punched, not from foul play, but from a poorly executed tackle.

        If an objective study was undertaken, based on data and not on emotion, it would highlight that there are remarkably few injuries sustained from punches being thrown.

        Let's not confuse football fistycuffs with the serious issue the community faces of the death and maiming of weekend revelers that results from street fighting and king hits. That kind of behaviour is driven by excessive consumption of alcohol, and other drugs. It does not arise because a twenty-something male had a few drinks, and cast his mind back to Paul Gallen throwing a few punches on a football field.

        If one applied the methodology used by criminologists and statisticians, there would be no causal link found between throwing punches in football and the rise in the kind of reckless and drunken violence that has been witnessed over the last few years. There would also be no strong link found between serious football injury and the throwing of punches.

        I don't believe the footballing authorities should ever promote their sport based on perceived violence, not because it may influence community behaviour, but because they should promote the sport itself, and not something that forms a very small part of the contest.

        Gallen's actions were not "a great origin moment". Let's get over it.

        Commenter
        Tommy
        Location
        Sydney
        Date and time
        June 12, 2013, 9:27AM
      • Looks like someone didn't bother reading the article.

        Commenter
        timmy83
        Date and time
        June 12, 2013, 10:18AM

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