If you’re wondering why your Thursday evening news does not feature any shirtless players in State of Origin dressing rooms, a new media edict is to blame. Channel Nine had been relaxed about rival network news crews filming in the sheds but became upset at what they saw as infringements of their exclusive rights earlier in the series, alleging reports filed from – and vision of – the playing surface, which is considered a no-no. So no interviews were permitted inside Suncorp Stadium by Seven, Ten or the ABC on Wednesday night. The media conferences represented the only vision rival networks were allowed to access. The channels responded by waiting for teams at their hotels, long after midnight.
Spotlight on refs
While a dead rubber was never going to put as much pressure on referees as games one and two, there were still a few flashpoints. Whistler Ben Cummins screamed “penalty Brisbane” at one stage when he and partner Gerard Sutton missed the ball bouncing off one Blue and into the arms of another in an offside position. And Sin Bin is reliably informed that if an attacker drops the ball and then kicks it, under current interpretation this is now seen as an advantage taken. When it happened to Queensland, they got a scrum feed 20 metres from the NSW line. The Blues held them up four times, nonetheless, before Daly Cherry-Evans laid on a pearler of a try for Cameron Smith.
Pointing the finger
You would have thought all the stories about Arthur Beetson and the birth of Origin had already been told. On Wednesday, Queensland’s halfback in 1980 – Greg Oliphant – came up with one that was new to us. Speaking at the annual Southern Suburbs Origin lunch at Davies Park, Oliphant was joined by former nemesis Tom Raudonikis on stage for a round of yarns, MC’ed by former Magpies fullback Gary Belcher. At a certain point in this story, we’re going to have to revert to reporters’ speech for the sake of the squeamish among you.
“Arthur and I had a big feed a few hours before the game and Arthur, being a fair bit bigger than me, really enjoyed it,” Oliphant recounted. “Anyway, I was rooming with him and when we got back to the room, we watched some cartoons. Arthur loved cartoons, he was laughing away at them, and he then said ‘mate I feel crook. Oh, I feel really crook’. I thought ‘this is no good, Arthur Beetson sick just before the game’. I said to him ‘you might have to use the two fingers’. He said ‘what do you mean?’. I said ‘the two fingers, get it out of your body’. So he’s gone into the toilet and he is in there for ages, moaning. After a while, I went in to check on him.”
At this point we pause from direct quotes to describe what Oliphant found. Suffice to say, Big Artie had misunderstood his teammate’s instructions. “I said ‘you’re supposed to put them in your mouth!’” Oliphant continued, to howls of laughter from around 150 guests. He answered: "If I put these two in my mouth, I’ll really be sick.”
Mbye snubs NSW
Canterbury's Moses Mbye wasn’t available for the NSW Cup representative side that played against Queensland in one of the two Origin curtain-raisers due to a foot injury. But Sin Bin has been told the diehard Queenslander wouldn’t have played anyway, he holds the blue jersey in such disdain. Mbye told his management and officials he had no intention or interest in representing NSW in anything.
Boys in Blues
NSW Police scored a big 38-12 win over their Queensland counterparts in the first game on Origin night. It was a reasonably high-profile clash with toe-poke conversions. In the second game, Canberra’s Mitch Cornish came off late in the 24-16 loss against the Maroons. He did not appear to be hurt as coach Jason Taylor gave Newcastle’s Tyler Randell the chance to impress.