Public enemy No.1 in Queensland during State of Origin is usually a no brainer – NSW captain Paul Gallen.
But Maroons prop Josh McGuire admits he came perilously close to earning the title after putting a crushing hit on Johnathan Thurston.
The Brisbane prop said there some anxious moments after he realised he had caused a hip injury to Cowboys playmaker Thurston in their NRL derby days before Queensland’s Origin I squad was to be announced.
Moments after copping the McGuire body shot, Thurston dusted himself off to kick the match-winning field goal in the Cowboys’ 19-18 on May 20.
However, Thurston revealed the full extent of the injury after fulltime – much to McGuire’s horror.
“I didn’t even know I had hurt him until after the game when he told me,” McGuire said on Saturday.
“Obviously it is not what you want. I felt a little bit bad.”
McGuire admitted for a second he feared he would become the most hated man in Queensland – even more than Gallen.
But McGuire countered: “It was heat of the battle.
“Mate, he had the ball so I tackled him.
“I was too tired to take notice of who it was.
“I was wearing my Broncos jersey at the time not my Queensland jersey.”
Either way, the stage was set for an awkward reunion when McGuire entered Queensland’s Gold Coast camp with Thurston ahead of Wednesday night’s Origin opener in Sydney.
It seems there are no hard feelings.
“He is still whingeing about it but he’ll be right,” McGuire laughed.
Much to McGuire’s relief, Thurston has been cleared to play Origin I.
“It’s coming along nicely, improving every day,” Thurston said on Saturday.
“I start contact work on Sunday.”