October 22, 2021

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Arts Fanatics

QLD Maroons vs NSW Blues, game two, live updates, news, Jarome Luai, Reece Walsh debut, James Tedesco injury

10 min read

NSW coach Brad Fittler has fired a stunning accusation at teenage State of Origin debutant Reece Walsh.

Ahead of the 18-year-old’s first game for Queensland on Sunday, Fittler has accused the young gun of milking penalties by staying on the ground and acting in front of referees.

Walsh has only played seven NRL games but Channel 9 on Thursday broadcast two separate pieces of vision which allegedly portray the rookie Warriors fullback exaggerating injury.

Fittler levelled the accusation at Walsh when speaking to Channel 9.

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The Blues coach referenced the “gentlemen’s agreement” put forth by Queensland captain Daly Cherry-Evans ahea dof Origin I, urging all players not to milk penalties in Origin.

“The one thing he will be coming to grips with is that this is another level, obviously the interest around the game… and hopefully he’s read DCE’s gentlemen’s agreement,” Fittler said.

“He’s playing with the big boys now and that’s the way it should be played in Origin.

“(Diving) is (a bad look), and especially at this level. I think going into the last game Daly Cherry-Evans spoke about the gentlemen’s agreement, we just hope that extends to this game as well.”

Read on for the latest State of Origin updates.

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Jai Arrow in hospital | 04:03

SMITH’S BOLD BLUES CLAIM

Maroons legend Cameron Smith has claimed all pressure is on NSW to win game two despite rolling over the top of Queensland 50-6 in the series opener.

The champion hooker spoke to SEN radio ahead of game two at Suncorp Stadium.

“The pressure now falls on the Blues, because they’re one up,” Smith said.

“If they let this great victory in Game I slide, the pressure now mounts for Game III in a decider.

“It’s backs to the wall for Queensland, that’s a place we love to be in.

“We’ve got another player in hospital (Jai Arrow – infection), it’s just panning out beautifully for us.

“You go out 50-0, they’re paying $1.05, they’re Winx prices.

“All the pressure is on them, they could just seize up a little bit.

“(Nathan) Cleary could seize up a little bit, (Jarome) Luai needs to seize up, and if they go out a little bit flustered early things could change to the Maroons favour.”

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HUNT: I DESERVED TO BE AXED

— By Joel Gould. NCA Newswire

Maroons utility Ben Hunt says he deserved to be axed from last year’s State of Origin series decider and has credited new Dragons coach Anthony Griffin for his recall.

The versatile 31-year-old will play in the number 14 jersey on Sunday night at Suncorp Stadium in his first Origin game since being dropped for Harry Grant ahead of Queensland’s win in game three last season.

With Grant, Reed Mahoney and utility AJ Brimson all unavailable due to injury, and in the wake of Queensland’s 50-6 loss in game one, Hunt has been given another chance by coach Paul Green to add to his nine Origin appearances.

“It was tough, but I kind of saw that it was coming,” Hunt said of last year’s axing.

“In game two [a 34-10 loss] I was disappointed with how I played. I had a pretty good read on it but I wasn’t dirty. It was my own fault.

“That’s the way rugby league goes now. One week you could be in, the next you could be out.

“I definitely have the belief that I can perform in this arena and do a job. Greeny has put some faith in me now to come in and do a role and I have to do that for him.

“He told me I’d be playing the utility role and we’d work it out as the week goes on, so I will prepare to play anywhere from number six to 13.”

Cronk & Blocker preview Origin II | 04:43

Hunt was the Ron McAuliffe Medal-winner as Queensland’s player of the series in 2019 but was below his best for the Dragons in their dire 2020 season.

Under his old Broncos coach Anthony “Hook” Griffin he has regained his mojo and it was an inspirational and influential display at halfback in the comeback 22-20 win over the Raiders last week that sealed his Origin selection.

“That gave me a lot of confidence,” Hunt said.

“That was a real courageous effort from our boys at the Dragons and I felt like I played reasonably well and did some good things for the team, so I feel good coming into camp.

“Hook has been great with the way he puts a lot of confidence in me and drives me to take control of the team and get out and get after it. I give him a lot of credit for getting me to play some good footy.

“I just like the way Hook is really direct. We understand each other. I know where I stand with him and he has always found the way to get the best out of me.”

MAROONS RESPOND TO INFAMOUS LUAI PHOTO

Queensland skipper Daly Cherry-Evans has opened up on the infamous Jarome Luai photo that is rumoured to be driving the Maroons to redemption in Origin II.

The Blues five-eighth was captured giving a spray to Maroons forward Felise Kaufusi on the ground in game one and Cherry-Evans admits it has come up in camp.

“Yeah, yeah it has popped up a fair bit since game one,” Cherry-Evans told Channel 7.

“I dare say it is going to happen again. He will probably be doing the same sort of stuff on Sunday, but we will be better prepared for it.

“We are all aware of it mate, so we don’t need our noses rubbed in it.

“We are really aware of how bad it was on that night and when you win by 50 you probably have the right to stand over us don’t you.

“We owe it to ourselves and to the rest of Queensland to go out there this Sunday and really turn it around.”

The man at the centre of the embarrassment, Felise Kaufusi, also broke his silence on the incident.

“I think he just plays with a lot of passion,” he said of Kaufusi.

“I can’t remember what he said to me, I was pretty filthy with myself, to be honest. I must have got steamrolled (by Junior Paulo). I was more embarrassed with myself.”

Queensland forward Tino Fa’asuamaleaui echoed his skipper’s sentiments in stressing the Maroons will be out for redemption in Origin II.

Brandy: Front row is key Origin battle | 01:21

“100 per cent it is motivation for game two and you never want to see a brother on the ground like that and someone standing over them,” Fa’asuamaleaui said.

“Next time it will be one of us there helping him up, so we just have to have each other’s back out there and we don’t want to see anything like that.”

Blues coach Brad Fittler brushed the photo off as good photography.

“I’ve seen the photo, it is a really good photo,” Fittler said.

“I don’t know if they will use it as motivation, I’m not sure, but I thought it was a great photo.”

Maroons great Gorden Tallis acknowledged the great photo, but stressed Queensland will have other ways to motivate themselves in their bid to force a decider.

“Queensland has never been about revenge,” Tallis said.

“It has been about us going out there and representing our state.

“It is great that photo is there and I think that is the theatre of rugby league.”

LEGEND’S TEEN THEORY

NSW great Mark Geyer believes Queensland is using teenage superstar Reece Walsh to distract media, commentators and the opposition from focusing on other talking points around its team.

The Maroons camp has been all about the 18-year-old since his selection on Monday morning, but there’s plenty of other question marks after the 50-6 thumping in game one.

“We all bought into it. We’re all in the trap, Queensland’s trap,” Geyer told his Triple M radio show on Wednesday.

“While we’re talking about Reece Walsh, guess what? We’re not talking about Cameron Munster, we’re not talking about Jai Arrow in the back row, we’re not talking about (David) Fifita off the bench, we’re not talking about two hookers, we’re not talking about 50-6.

“This is a ploy, a trap, a trick, an ambush.

“He’s picked on merit, but the fanfare around him has got me thinking… I’m not thinking about anything other than Reece Walsh. This is a Queensland team that got beat 50-6, they will be fuming.

“An 18-year-old kid is the decoy for all of this, we’ve all taken the bait.”

BLUE’S BABY MAYHEM COULD FORCE LATE CHANGE

Blues utility Jack Wighton is a chance of withdrawing from Origin II as he and his partner await the arrival of their third child.

Wighton has been named to play off the bench for NSW again but he is on standby to leave camp and be by his partner’s side for the birth.

Blues legend Mark Geyer says he would also prioritise the birth over playing for his state.

“He has played Origin before. If you’ve got your mind on something other than the game at hand… best is you leave camp,” Geyer told Triple M.

“Obviously his mind is on the kid, as mine would be. I would be straight to my partner’s side.”

If Wighton does withdraw, NSW has Api Koroisau, Campbell Graham, and Dale Finucane in the extended squad.

Geyer says he would bring Finucane onto the bench, who can play middle or edge forward roles.

“Dale Finucane, Api Koroisau to name two… I think Finucane,” he said.

“What that does, you’ve got Cam Murray who can play dummy-half if need be, Cam Murray can play in the outside backs if need be, Isaah Yeo can play in the outside backs if need be.

“I think they’re covered. I would probably resist playing Api as the 14.”

Jack Wighton in action during a Blues training session.Source: Getty Images

BLUES TURN TO RETIRED SKIPPER

He may have hung up the boots, but former Roosters, NSW and Kangaroos skipper Boyd Cordner has been invited into Blues camp ahead of Sunday’s clash.

Cordner was the last NSW skipper to lift the Origin shield (in 2019) and has the upmost respect of the Blues squad.

James Tedesco took over the captaincy reigns last year after Cordner pulled out of game’s two and three.

The two spent plenty of time together away from the representative circle, at the Roosters, and Tedesco has been “watching and learning” from Cordner — a “true leader.”

“He’s a true warrior and a true leader,” Tedesco told The Sydney Morning Herald.

“For me it’s about watching him and how he conducts himself, who he is as a man. You look at him and he’s got that presence. When he walks into a room and says something, it really has a meaning. Just watching him and learning from him is a big thing.

“I know he’s really proud of me how I’ve developed as a player, and that’s all from watching him and learning from him.”

Tedesco revealed it was a “shock” to the rest of the Roosters’ playing group when Cordner made the call to retire. But even though his playing career is over, Blues coach Brad Fittler has invited him into the training camp he used to lead.

“It was a bit of a shock. I thought he was looking good at training… for ‘Boydo’ to make that call, it must have been serious,” Tedesco said.

“But Freddy said he was welcome to come in and I think he’s going to come up.”

BRUTALITY AWAITS MAROONS DEBUTANT

There’s a lot of anticipation surrounding Queensland debutant, Reece Walsh.

How will an 18-year-old with just seven NRL games under his belt cope in the Origin pressure cooker?

Walsh certainly has the confidence and swagger to suggest he’ll be just fine, but former Blues hardman Mark Carroll is expecting NSW’s pack to target the teen sensation to try and rattle him.

“Put it this way. If he comes through the middle, he leaves with bruises,” Carroll told Fox League’s NRL Tonight.

“He’s a cheeky player, he’s got great speed. But if he wants to take the middle forwards on, I expect — especially in State of Origin and the capacity of the game — he will get belted through the middle.

“A few of these forwards, they’d be frothing at the mouth.

“They’re going to tire him out. So hopefully when he does come through the middle, you whack him not with two players, but with maybe three or four.

“It should zap the energy out of this kid and he won’t be able to cause havoc through the middle.”

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TEDESCO REVEALS INJURY BATTLE

All eyes were on Nathan Cleary’s nasty cut on his face in game one, but secretly, James Tedesco was battling a painful injury of his own.

The 28-year-old suffered a hip pointer injury a week before Origin and hadn’t fully recovered when he ran out onto the field in Townsville.

Tedesco toldThe Sydney Morning Herald that he needed two painkilling injections at half time and then had to have fluid drained from the injured area after the game.

He was rested when he returned to club land, missing his Roosters’ one-point win over the Titans, but did play against the Panthers the following week.

The injury isn’t completely healed but Tedesco will push through, saying it’s a “week to week thing.”

“Game one, it was really hurting in the second half,” he said.

“It was causing me a bit of grief, but I got through the Panthers game really well. I was a bit concerned during the week as I didn’t train much. Now it is more a week to week thing.”