NSW State of Origin skipper Paul Gallen has hit back at claims made by Queensland counterpart Cameron Smith that the Blues blamed the referees for their series-opening loss in Sydney.
Smith went on the front foot on just the second day of Maroons camp on Tuesday, saying the Maroons’ legacy had been built on taking ownership of their performance and not laying into the officials.
His comments were in response to NSW coach Laurie Daley publically requesting after game one that referees Ben Cummins and Gerard Sutton not to be selected for game two in Brisbane.
However, Gallen rejected the idea that Daley had excused his team for the loss at ANZ Stadium.
“Certainly one thing with Laurie, at no stage did he blame the referees for the loss to us as a playing group,” Gallen told AAP.
“He said what he said in the press conference, he let a bit of emotion out but he’s not using it as an excuse. Us players never blamed the refs for why we lost and the way we lost.”
Referees boss Tony Archer opted not to cave in to Daley’s demands, naming both Cummins and Sutton to officiate what will be their sixth straight match in tandem.
Cummins alone will referee his 12th Origin fixture in 14 matches.
“I thought they both performed well in game one and they’ve held their form in the NRL since then,” Archer said.
“They are the most-proven referees at this level and they deserve to referee in game two. They are clearly the best officials for the job.”