Meninga smells a rat in Uate decision
State of Origin just wouldn’t be the same without a good conspiracy theory. And Queensland coach Mal Meninga did his best to maintain tradition by hinting NSW winger Akuila Uate only escaped suspension for an NRL spear tackle so he could play in next week’s Origin II.
The Maroons mentor suggested NSW players in hot water around Origin time had been shown leniency for “a long time”, citing Jarryd Hayne’s infamous 2010 headbutt.
And Meninga believed a precedent had been set ahead of Origin II after Uate walked away unpunished for the dangerous throw, setting up the potential for game two fireworks.
Knights winger Uate was breathing a sigh of relief on Tuesday when he escaped punishment by entering an early plea for his grade one charge following Newcastle’s NRL loss to Wests Tigers on Monday night.
But Meninga hinted Uate should have been rubbed out for at least Origin II for the 72nd-minute lifting tackle on Tigers debutant Tim Simona.
“I thought it warranted a grade two but I don’t make those decisions,” he said after unveiling his side on Tuesday.
“He is very important to them so he is playing.
“It’s not the first time – Jarryd from a year ago.”
Hayne needed just eight minutes in the NRL judiciary to beat a headbutt charge on a technicality ahead of 2010′s Origin II, despite admitting he made contact with Melbourne and Queensland’s Billy Slater.
“It’s been happening for a long time, as long as I can remember – and I played game one,” Meninga said.
Of course Meninga is conveniently forgetting Luke Lewis was rubbed out of NSW’s Origin side by the judiciary on the same night Hayne was cleared – and the countless other cases passionate Blues fans could come up with over the years.
But Meninga was in no mood to back down on Tuesday, especially when asked if a precedent had been set by Uate’s tackle ahead of Origin II.
“Well, they have set one,” he said.
“We will see what happens from here on.
“But we will work with the cards we are dealt with and get on with business.”
Uate was too excited to take Meninga’s comments to heart.
“I would have been pretty upset if I had (been suspended),” Uate said.
“Even though I haven’t done it before, I was worried about what I was going to get … you always worry when you are put on report.
“But I knew nothing much happened in that tackle.
“I was a little bit worried this morning but … I came to training and I heard the news and I was pretty excited.”
For good measure, Meninga also tried to play some old fashioned mind games when asked about NSW coach Ricky Stuart’s stunning change of tack.
A long term view and a vow to show loyalty and not pick players out of position were thrown out the window for game two.
“In any Origin game I think you need people playing their position – that is my belief,” Meninga said.
“(But) you would have to ask Ricky about that.
“We have a lot of belief in our footy side.
“We are very secure in the knowledge that we have picked a side that has done it before.”
Asked if he would ever go into an Origin clash with just two specialist props like NSW have done for game two, Meninga said: “We haven’t had to make that decision.
“We have the best front rowers in the game playing for us.
“We are in an envious position.”© AAP 2013
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