Queensland assistant Michael Hagan says NSW skipper Paul Gallen’s “left field” criticism has put the Maroons on notice ahead of State of Origin II in Melbourne.
Hagan refused to return fire at Gallen but admitted old sparring partner Nate Myles might now want to “torment” the NSW leader on Wednesday night at the MCG.
Gallen launched an extraordinary attack on the Maroons on Tuesday, describing them as grubby and disrespectful.
“They were a little bit out of left field, I guess,” Hagan said of Gallen, who missed game one due to injury.
“But I think that is part of what Paul Gallen brings to the team.
“It’s probably put us on notice as to what to expect.
“We know they are going to be really aggressive and we are going to have to counter that somehow.”
Hagan did not rule out payback from prop Myles who infamously traded blows with Gallen in the 2013 Origin series.
“A bloke like Nate Myles probably missed Gal in the first game, from the point of view to have someone to torment for 80 minutes.
“It’s something to look forward to.”
Hagan tried to bite his tongue when asked whether it was a “bit rich” that Gallen had called Queenslanders grubby.
“You could say that. But we are not about judging that,” he said of Gallen’s own colourful on-field history.
“We are about getting the job done.”
Hagan admitted being without halfback Cooper Cronk (knee) in game two was an issue but did not want to put too much pressure on replacement Daly Cherry-Evans.
Hagan said Cherry-Evans – who missed game one with a shoulder complaint – knew he would be targeted by a fired up NSW.
But Hagan believed Cherry-Evans was up for the challenge after emerging from a tumultuous period where he polarised the public by reneging on a Gold Coast deal and staying with Manly.
“He’s a pretty courageous player,” Hagan said.
“He knows if he runs the ball, he will come under some attention.
“That’s part of why he is such a good player and why Manly were so desperate to keep him.
“You want to build a team around someone like that.”
Hagan admitted Matt Scott (knee) was a concern on Monday but gave the prop the all-clear for game two.
Hagan also believed the Maroons would enjoy a home ground advantage at the MCG after being in camp in Melbourne since Tuesday last week.
NSW were accused by Queensland this week of not promoting the game after opting to remain in Coffs Harbour and not arriving in Melbourne until Sunday.
“The last couple of days have made us realise how much Queensland has that support,” Hagan said.
“Tonight, I think we can maybe expect a little advantage.”