For someone who claims that he doesn’t read newspapers, NSW captain Paul Gallen sure seemed fired up about the barbs published ahead of Wednesday night’s State of Origin II in Melbourne.
Gallen appeared to be the main instigator when he launched an explosive tirade on match eve, describing Queensland as “grubby” and “disrespectful”.
But the Blues leader agreed with his surly coach Laurie Daley that taunts presumably from Queensland spurred them on to their 26-18 game two win – and maybe even an eventual series win.
The Blues on Wednesday night took aim at everyone from Queensland Rugby League chairman Peter Betros to so-called critics – and this was after they had won.
Gallen again provided the spark to NSW’s impressive win in front of a record 91,513-strong MCG crowd – and it was clear later what provided the motivation.
Gallen appeared to cite a Queensland newspaper headline on Wednesday that described him as a “drug cheat” in light of the Cronulla supplements saga after the bruising win.
“There was plenty said about us. People wanted to see us fail,” Gallen said.
“No one likes to be bagged. But we did what we had to do to win.”
Asked what he thought of being called a drug cheat, Gallen said: “I don’t care mate. I don’t read the newspapers.”
Asked if he still thought Queensland were grubs, Gallen said: “Can I say yes?
“Look I don’t care, we won.”
Gallen may not peruse the papers but Daley sure does.
“People wanted to be critical of us – ‘the duds’ a few people called us,” he said.
“That was probably good for us.”
He was even offended by QRL boss Betros claiming NSW did not promote the game by opting to hold their Origin II camp in Coffs Harbour and not stay in Melbourne like Queensland.
“Paul, Peter, whatever his name is can say whatever he likes – I will do what is right for the team and I will do it again,” Daley said.
Then there was the on-field niggle.
Fill-in Queensland halfback Daly Cherry-Evans was targeted by Ryan Hoffman all night.
And Maroons fullback Billy Slater’s suspect shoulder copped a battering.
By the 22nd minute it almost became too much for Slater who retaliated by throwing the ball at a James Tamou shove, sparking the first of many mini-melees.
“You get caught in the heat of the game at times and tempers flare,” Queensland captain Cameron Smith.
“The game has made a great move in banning it (punching).
“It’s not something we want in the game. It’s not something we want in society.”
Asked how physical game two was, Queensland back-rower Aiden Guerra said: “There were a lot of facial massages – I thought I was in Thailand.”