Copping a spray from NSW’s David Klemmer is nothing new to Cameron Smith.
However, the Queensland captain admits the Blues’ grubby tactics took their toll in State of Origin II.
Smith, 32, said Queensland “got caught up in their rubbish” in their game-two loss and must learn to deal with NSW’s trash talk with upstart bench forward Klemmer primed again to lead the niggle.
Smith will equal Queensland great Darren Lockyer’s Origin record of 36 games in July 8’s Origin decider in Brisbane.
However, Smith’s game-three focus will be helping the Maroons cope with the Klemmer-inspired Blues chatter – something he is all too familiar with.
Smith confirmed he has had to deal with Klemmer’s sprays since 2013.
The Bulldogs’ forward called him a “has been” in a nasty pre-season trial incident two years ago before Klemmer had even made his NRL debut.
“Yeah, he did actually,” a bemused Smith said on Friday.
“It was in a trial game as well which was a bit weird.”
Smith said they could not afford to lose their focus again in their bid to wrestle the Origin trophy back from a desperate Blues.
“I probably do think we got caught up in their rubbish a bit (in game two), which we’ve never done before,” he said.
“That’s a lesson learned. We’ve spoken about that.
“We just can’t afford to do that in game three.
“We always play our best footy when we worry about ourselves.”
Smith hinted complacency might have also played a part in game two.
“They were desperate. They needed to do something to win and maybe, in the back of our minds, we were 1-0 up and we didn’t necessarily have to win that game,” he said.
“We wanted to win it but they had to and they came out and played a really strong game plan so things have changed for us this match, for sure.”
Returning Queensland halfback Cooper Cronk on Friday claimed his troublesome knee would not be a liability in game three.
Smith almost dared NSW to target Cronk, set to reunite with pivot Johnathan Thurston after fill-in No.7 Daly Cherry-Evans struggled in Origin II.
“He’s played more than 250 games at NRL level and played plenty of Origins and Tests so, if they’re going to try and target him, then good luck to them – he’ll handle it,” Smith warned.
Meanwhile, Smith said he would cherish his Origin milestone but claimed a win was the only stat he was worried about.
“You don’t play to break records … but to be able to equal a guy that I hold in very high regard is a nice achievement,” said Smith who had missed only one Origin since making his Maroons debut in game three in 2003.
Smith already holds the Origin record for most wins (21).