Not on my watch.
Memories of a divided Australia’s disastrous 1985 tour of New Zealand have inspired Mal Meninga to stop any State of Origin bad blood spilling over to the Kangaroos.
National coach Meninga said he was not concerned by Queensland veteran Corey Parker’s claim that tensions between the State of Origin teams were at an all-time high ahead of the end-of-year Four Nations campaign in the UK.
But Meninga vowed to stamp out any interstate issues in the Kangaroos’ camp after enduring a fractured Kangaroos trip across the ditch 31 years ago.
Back then Terry Fearnley held both the Kangaroos and NSW reins, ensuring plenty of interstate friction – especially after the Blues had won their first Origin series in 1985.
Fearnley copped plenty of criticism after appearing to prefer NSW players over Maroons across the ditch, culminating in a humiliating 18-0 third Test loss to the Kiwis in Auckland.
The unofficial “Terry Fearnley rule” has all but ensured coaches have not held both state and national reins since in Australia.
Asked if he feared a repeat of the 1985 debacle, Meninga said: “That was driven by the leadership group.
“It wasn’t driven by the players.
“I am the leader of this Test team and it will not happen, simple as that.
“I can assure you players will want to put their hand up for the Four Nations and who wouldn’t want to be involved in the World Cup?”
Queensland were seething over NSW skipper Paul Gallen turning his back on Maroons skipper Cameron Smith lifting the Origin trophy and leading the Blues away after last week’s game three in Sydney.
Meninga not only has to unite his Kangaroos team ahead of the end-of-year Four Nations in the UK but also next year’s World Cup which was launched in Brisbane on Tuesday.
But Meninga – a veteran of 32 games for Queensland before a decade-long stint as Maroons coach – could not see a problem.
“Origin is about passion, that’s what makes it so special,” he said.
“Players will move on. I don’t anticipate any problems whatsoever.”
He refuted Parker’s claim that Origin hatred had reached another level this year.
“I don’t think so – it’s as per normal,” he said.
“It’s part of the banter and theatre of Origin – there won’t be any issues.”
Kangaroos captain Smith reckoned anyone who couldn’t get over their Origin issues shouldn’t be picked for Australia.
“Anyone that struggles with getting a call up to play for Australia and leaving that stuff at the door shouldn’t play,” he said.