NSW can't stop fuming
An independent analyst engaged by NSW officials to review Origin I has found that Queensland was able to get away with 10 incidents that warranted penalties, while match officials missed just one infringement by the Blues.
The findings from Wednesday night's controversial 18-10 loss in Melbourne have reinforced the view of NSW coach Ricky Stuart and his players that the Maroons play by a different set of rules in Origin.
So furious was Stuart in the wake of the loss, which has the Blues at risk of a seventh consecutive series defeat, that he instructed his players not to give interviews in the lead-up to Origin II as a protest.
The media ban was lifted late yesterday via a text message from Stuart, which Fairfax obtained.
The text message read: ''G'day Fellas it's Ricky. Thank you for your efforts in preparation and performance over the last 10 days. Play like Origin players for your clubs this weekend and I hope you all come through healthy. In regards to media, I believe it is important for you to be available if you are comfortable doing so. Your relationship with our media has been a massive help so please feel free to commit. I know we were all disappointed having so many controversial decisions go against us on Wednesday night. I thought it was important for you not to say anything you may have regretted today. Good luck boys and again thanks for your efforts.''
However, Stuart and the NSW team's management are still angered at how the game was refereed after receiving a report from an independent analyst hired to determine whether their concerns after the match were warranted.
Among the analyst's findings were that the Blues should have received an additional 10 penalties for a variety of incidents throughout the match, including:
■ Halfback Mitchell Pearce being hit late and high by Nate Myles early in the game as the Blues led 4-0;
■ Hooker Robbie Farah being kicked in the face by Justin Hodges during the first half;
■ An ankle lock by Queensland fullback Billy Slater that left Jarryd Hayne hobbling just after half-time;
■ Hayne being struck in the nose by Ashley Harrison in a second-half tackle that caused him to stay down; and
■ Winger Akuila Uate being elbowed by Cameron Smith.
The analyst also found that NSW should have received penalties for Hayne and fullback Brett Stewart being taken out in separate incidents by Cooper Cronk and Slater.
In comparison, the only incident the Blues got away with was Hayne punching Johnathan Thurston after a tackle in the opening minutes.
It was not just the missed penalties that hurt NSW, with the Maroons allowed to slow the play-the-ball midway through the first half after they struggled to keep up with the Blues' more mobile forwards.
The NSW camp felt that Queensland was able to get away with a variety of tactics designed to counter the Blues' dominance of the ruck, including wrestling holds and players flopping into tackles late, which slowed the speed of some play-the-balls to eight or nine seconds.
The turning point was the sin-binning of centre Michael Jennings for running into a brawl that had erupted after Maroons prop Matt Scott threw the ball at Greg Bird. The Blues believe a Queensland player should have also joined him on the sideline for 10 minutes.
In addition, Jennings was forced to spend an extra 46 seconds in the sin bin as the match officials failed to call time out.
His return coincided with a 36th-minute penalty against Bird for a lifting tackle on Cronk that referees boss Bill Harrigan has conceded should not have been awarded.
Another penalty near the NSW line led to Darius Boyd's second try in the 40th minute that gave Queensland a 12-4 lead at half-time. The Maroons did not score again until Greg Inglis's controversial 73rd-minute try.
NSW Rugby League general manager Geoff Carr revealed yesterday he had advised Stuart to keep quiet after the match to avoid saying anything he might later regret.
''Sometimes if you are in a really raw moment and you are very emotional you may be better of saying nothing, and I made a point of telling Ricky that before and after the press conference,'' Carr said. ''He then made the decision to advise the players that way.''
ARL Commission chief executive David Gallop yesterday told Carr and QRL boss Rob Moore that ongoing media bans would not be tolerated and said he would be happy to meet Stuart or Maroons coach Mal Meninga.
''Media bans are not supported by us though they may seem a protective move on a coach's be half,'' Gallop said. ''That is something I have told Geoff and Rob needs to be understood. Access to our players is expected and reasonable.''