Amid the NRL’s controversial high shot crackdown, Maroons halfback Daly Cherry-Evans called for a “gentlemen’s agreement” between the two teams whereby no player would stay down to milk a penalty for a high tackle.
However, not everyone’s a fan of the suggestion.
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Melbourne Storm great Cameron Smith was bemused by the “gentlemen’s agreement” claim while speaking on SEN 1170’s The Captain’s Run on Wednesday.
“Please. No way,” Smith said.
“These players are out there to win State of Origin. People don’t realise how hard it is to win a State of Origin game.
“If it comes down to the last two minutes of a game or the last five minutes of the game and the scores are level and you cop a slap in the face, they will lie down. I will promise you that.
“Is it a good look for the game? No it’s not, but it is a direct result of these new rules. You’ve seen players lay down for a penalty because of how strict they are with contact. It’s not a new thing with this crackdown on high tackles but if it happens tonight and scores are level, someone gets hit high, I’ll tell you they will be laying on the ground.”
Speaking to Sky Sports’ Big Sports Breakfast radio program on Tuesday, NRL reporter Danny Weidler called the gentlemen’s agreement claim a “gee-up”.
“I can’t believe that before an Origin — Paul Gallen used to talk about how the Queenslanders had two heads and how he hated Queensland — now we’ve got Daly Cherry-Evans, with all due respect, talking about a gentlemen’s agreement,” Weidler said.
“Please, this is supposed to be State of Origin.
“I can’t believe the chat that’s going on around Origin. It’s been very submissive and very friendly. I don’t know if I’m loving the way the game’s going at the moment.”
Raiders legend Laurie Daley added: “I don’t want to see this gentlemen’s agreement thing. What I want to see is just two teams going at it.”
NSW will be looking to bounce back from a shock series loss last year when they take on Queensland in Game 1 of State of Origin in Townsville tonight.
The Blues won two series in a row in 2018 and 2019 before master coach Wayne Bennett helped the Maroons cause a boilover last year, winning the series 2-1. Queensland has a new coach this year in Paul Green.
The bookies are favouring Brad Fittler’s men to come out on top in Game 1, but they’ll have to do it in front a parochial Queensland crowd after the match was moved from Melbourne because of Victoria’s Covid-19 situation.
But despite getting a game in their own backyard — two in a row in fact — and straight after one of the most shocking Origin series victories in history, Queensland are again rejecting the favourites tag.
Asked who the underdogs were, Maroons rookie coach Paul Green said: “We are. Queensland.”
“Because we’ve had a pretty disrupted prep, and on paper they’re a better team than us.”
Maroons five-eighth Cameron Munster comes into the series under an injury cloud and is managing a foot injury.
But last year’s Man of the Series always rises to the occasion of State of Origin and will be a handful for NSW.
Here’s everything you need to know ahead of Game 1 so you don’t miss any of the action.
What time does the game start?
How can I watch the game?
You can watch Game 1 live on Channel 9, or live stream it via the network’s online platform 9Now.
Kayo will have pre-game coverage from 6pm (AEST) as well as post-game analysis.