Origin actions speak louder than words
Who won Origin off the field – the gibbering whingers or the smug fakes? Did the jibes, put-downs and angry words traded between the Blues and Maroons camps make any difference at all?
Or are verbal wars like that just meaningless sideshows fought by grown-up sooks?
The build-up to Wednesday night’s game two was more heated than most.
Queensland coach Mal Meninga, chasing a seventh straight series win, observed after winning game one that the Blues lacked the mentality to win Origin, a nice little grenade to toss over the parapet.
NSW coach Ricky Stuart responded by saying he’d had a “gutful of Queensland’s smugness and their fake graciousness in victory”.
That got under the skin of Queensland prop Dave Shillington, who barked: “I take it personally. I think we all do.”
Chris “Choppy” Close, a Queensland stalwart from the 1980s, chimed in by describing Stuart as “the greatest gibberer NSW has produced”.
It was on for young and old.
Origin greats in each camp predicted the bad blood would lead to an on-field brawl.
“It’s been pistols at 10 paces this year,” said former NSW halfback Andrew Johns.
“It’s going to make for an explosive game. Without doubt it’s going to boil over.”
Queensland great Darren Lockyer said: “I haven’t seen a build-up to an Origin like this for a long time.”
“Ricky has probably fired up the Queensland boys a bit. I think any sort of high shot, mistimed, whatever … there’s a good chance emotions are going to flow over.”
There was no sign of the biff, however, certainly not in a disciplined first half.
You can’t blame Stuart for trying. After all, nothing else has worked in the past six years.
It’s reasonable to assume the coaches believe their words wield some sort of influence.
Otherwise why would they waste their time and emotional energy when they are so busy preparing elite footballers for the most intense showdowns of the year?
Some coaches go to great lengths to let slip a comment they feel will put pressure on the other side or give their team a psychological advantage.
On the other hand, if a player needs an in-your-face comment to get him up for battle, surely he lacks the passion required to be out there in the first place.
If all the mouthing off does have any effect, it should be forgotten at the first whistle, otherwise the players’ minds aren’t fully on the real job.
The sensible player can elect simply to ignore all the hype and hurtful words.
He can adopt Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy: “No-one can hurt me without my permission.”
Then again, Mahatma Gandhi never packed down in a scrum.© AAP 2013