Billy Slater and Michael Maguire come face-to-face in awkward scenes after Origin slanging match

The Blues coach's eye-opening remarks have dominated the build-up to Origin 2.

Queensland State of Origin coach Billy Slater has played down the simmering tensions with NSW counterpart Michael Maguire ahead of Wednesday night's Game 2 at the MCG. The pair came face-to-face with one another during a media event at Melbourne's iconic Federation Square on Tuesday, after Maguire's eye-opening comments about the Maroons and "glass houses" that have dominated the build-up to the match.

Maguire's barb has been largely interpreted to be a shot at Slater and his questionable disciplinary record as a player. It came after Maguire's NSW side copped widespread condemnation by Queensland over the Joseph Suaalii high shot on Reece Walsh that saw the Blues star sent off in the Game 1 defeat in Sydney.

The image on left shows rival State of Origin coaches Billy Slater and Michael Maguire coming face-to-face before Game 2.
Rival State of Origin coaches Billy Slater and Michael Maguire came face-to-face in Melbourne on Tuesday ahead of Game 2 at the MCG on Wednesday night. Pic: Getty

The Blues coach has not confirmed that his "glass houses" reference was directed at Slater, which has only added to the intrigue before Game 2. He did tell reporters on Tuesday: “I think you all worked that out so I’ll leave that with you guys, but one thing I do is that I look after my players and we look after our players so that’s where it was focused."

But Slater played down any talk of animosity between the coaches after being quizzed about the drama by reporters in Melbourne, adding that the pair had shaken hands and spoken briefly during Tuesday's media event at Fed Square. “We’re good,” Slater said in answer to a question about his relationship with Maguire.

“We did (shake hands). We’re actually not playing, don’t know if you know that. Our days are gone... To be honest I didn’t feel it (glass houses remark) was directed at me. It’s been a real focus on us, for me to play a part in that it’s about keeping my head out of that noise and doing my part for the team.”

Maguire's hotly debated remark could have easily been in reference to comments made by Maroons greats and assistant coaches Johnathan Thurston and Nate Myles, who both hit out at NSW for targeting Walsh in Game 1. The Blues have made no secret about their plans to try and nullify the electric Maroons No.1 but admit Suaalii got it wrong in Sydney.

The incident has been the biggest talking point heading into Wednesday night's must-win clash for NSW, with Blues playmaker Jarome Luai among the latest to insist his side will again focus plenty of attention on Walsh. "I think he's an awesome player so if you're one of those great players, there's going to be a target on your back regardless," Luai said on Monday. "It's no one's intention to physically hurt someone the way he got hurt, but I think from a defensive perspective you need to have that mentality on someone that fast and that skilful otherwise he's going to hurt you.


"You can't go in 50 per cent or anything like that. At the end of the day that's Origin footy, things are happening at a 100 miles an hour. It's a contact sport. He's a dangerous man if you give him that space and time. We're going to try and restrict him as much as we can by sticking to our systems and not much is going to change."

Luai's comments come after host Origin broadcaster Channel Nine came under fire for running a TV promo featuring the Suaalii incident with Walsh from Game 1. The Maroons have been left fuming over the ad that partly features the Suaalii and Walsh incident, despite not showing the actual hit that knocked out the Queensland fullback.

Seen here, Maroons fullback Reece Walsh after being knocked out in the 8th minute of State of Origin Game 1.
Maroons fullback Reece Walsh was knocked out in the 8th minute in what was the biggest talking point from State of Origin Game 1 in Sydney. Pic: Getty

“I think it’s inappropriate and totally wrong," Queensland Rugby League chairman Bruce Hatcher told the Sydney Morning Herald. “There were plenty of other tackles they could have used. I hated that photo on the front page of the [Daily Telegraph] the next day [after Game 1] with Reece’s eyes rolled to the back of his head.

“The players are bigger, faster and tougher... they hit with a whole heap of force now, so I would err on the side of conservatism rather than [promote] the gung-ho stuff. I see a big cross-section of people these days. I know if we’re going to promote that type of fringe behaviour, the game will perish through litigation. I think Reece is a sensational talent. He’s a very different individual ... but if we condone any action that takes those sort of people out of the game, then I think the game is a shocking loser.”