NSW assistant coach Matt Parish has ramped up the State of Origin ante by naming Queensland captain Cameron Smith and teammates Nate Myles and Corey Parker as on-field nigglers.
The Blues are expecting a big response from Queensland in the series-opener at ANZ Stadium on Wednesday night after they broke the Maroons’ eight-year hold on the Origin trophy last year.
Parish addressed media on Wednesday morning and agreed there would be plenty of feeling and incitement.
“Any team with Nate Myles and Corey Parker and Cameron Smith is always going to have niggle,” he said.
“I can’t see it being any different.”
Myles, who infamously copped a punch to the head from NSW skipper Paul Gallen during game one of the 2013 series, is particularly renowned for getting under opposition players’ skins.
Gritty play has become a given in the states’ biggest sporting rivalry, and that’s why Parish says his squad are taking reports of the Maroons’ trials and tribulations with a grain of salt.
“How much truth’s in it? We don’t know what’s happening up there,” he said.
“All we know is that the team they’ve got on the park, they’ve got some of the greatest players that have ever played the game.
“And I’ve got no doubt that they’re going to come down here and give us everything they’ve got for 80 minutes tonight.”
Despite injury disruptions to key Queensland stars Billy Slater, Greg Inglis and Justin Hodges, NSW won’t be taking any chances testing out the fitness of the trio.
“Hopefully Greg Inglis doesn’t get the ball too much,” Parish said.
“He’s a great player – the least amount of ball he gets the better for NSW.
“Slater, another great player. Why would we want to give him the ball?
“It doesn’t matter who it is, it’s always going to be physical. Every tackle in Origin is physical.”