Blues enforcer Andrew Fifita is urging NSW teammates to stop blaming match officials and focus on keeping the 2016 State of Origin series alive.
Coach Laurie Daley’s demand to replace Gerard Sutton and Ben Cummins – who have controlled the past five Origin encounters stretching back to 2014 – has put the NRL’s two leading whistleblowers under intense scrutiny in the aftermath of the series opener.
NSW have won just one of the five Origin encounters under Cummins and Sutton during Daley’s tenure and are three from eight overall with Cummins refereeing during that period.
But Fifita insists the Blues can’t blame anyone but themselves for Wednesday night’s 6-4 loss to Queensland at ANZ Stadium.
He says regardless of who referees Origin II in Brisbane on June 22 – or whether or not NSW centre Josh Morris should have had a try overturned by the bunker in the series opener – the Blues need to put the controversies behind them.
“Look, they’re the referees and they’re the bunker and they make the right decisions and, at the end of the day, it just didn’t fall our decision,” Fifita said of the Morris call.
“It is what it is. We have to move on from it.
“We had plenty of opportunity there. We had plenty of sets on their line where we just didn’t make it forward.”
NRL CEO Todd Greenberg on Thursday said Daley’s comments wouldn’t influence referees boss Tony Archer when he appointed his officials for game two.
“The appointments of referees are independent and will continue to be,” Greenberg told Fairfax Media at a player welfare and education conference in Sydney.
“We don’t ask for either of the states’ permission or collective opinion on our selections for referees nor do we suggest that they would need ours for their players and that’s the way it will continue.”
Like the rest of the Blues, Fifita is hoping Daley doesn’t want any NSW players axed for the return bout at Suncorp Stadium.
“The boys are pretty positive. There was a lot of positive come out of that game – hardly really any negatives,” he said.
“At the end of the day, it was 6-4, and (we had) a lot of young ones in the team but they learnt pretty easy and we’re sticking together and we’ll just move forward from here.”
NSW’S BLUES UNDER REFEREES BEN CUMMINS AND GERARD SUTTON:
Game three: Ben Cummins, Shayne Hayne – Queensland 12-10, Sydney
Game one: Ben Cummins, Shane Hayne – NSW 12-8, Brisbane
Game two: Ben Cummins, Shane Hayne – NSW 6-4, Sydney
Game three : Ben Cummins, Gerard Sutton – Queensland 32-8, Brisbane
Game one: Ben Cummins, Gerard Sutton – Queensland 11-10, Sydney
Game two: Ben Cummins, Gerard Sutton – NSW 26-18, Melbourne
Game three: Ben Cummins, Gerard Sutton – Queensland 52-6, Brisbane
Game one: Ben Cummins, Gerard Sutton – Queensland 6-4, Sydney
NB: NSW have won three from eight Origin matches under Cummins during coach Laurie Daley’s four-year tenure. The Blues are one from five under Cummins and Sutton.