NRL fans have questioned Cameron Smith's dual role during State of Origin after he was seen speaking to the Maroons at half-time before Queensland's miraculous second-half comeback. Queensland yet again showed the courage that comes with wearing the Maroons jersey after scoring two late tries with just 12 men on the field to defeat the Blues 26-18 in Adelaide.
Up against it in the first-half with little possession or territory, a battered Maroons outfit held on to take a 12-10 lead into the tunnel. The Blues had started to gain the ascendency with the commentators noticing the Maroons huddled together before the end of the half after a robust defensive effort.
And whatever was said at half-time worked with the Maroons digging deep and stunning the Blues to take a 1-0 series scoreline home to Suncorp. And Smith - a top advisor to coach Slater - was asked by the Channel Nine panel what he said to the team.
Broadcast images showed the Queensland dressing room and Maroons legend Smith was addressing the players with coach Billy Slater looking on. Queensland great Paul Vautin asked Smith what he said to the team at half-time.
"I was reiterating what the coaches said before I got in," Smith said on Channel Nine before going into detail of the half-time talk.
“I asked the team to be better at their first three tackles. When we kicked down in New South Wales’ territory. We were coming back against Tedesco, Crichton, Brian To’o, just to be better those first three tackles because if we controlled the momentum, we can control the later plays with Cleary and Luai and Isaah Yeo getting involved.
"The one thing you cannot question from this side is their commitment to each other and their commitment to the jersey and their commitment to the State of Queensland and people watching at home.”
Smith then reiterated that his role is to give the team confidence when it comes to defending on the try line. Blues legend Andrew Johns was asked if he believed the details Smith had revealed, Johns joked: Na."
Smith being a top helper for Slater in the Maroons camp and his dual role as commentator has raised questions on whether he should be doing both. Johns has for many years remained on commentary while helping out coach Brad Fittler as an advisor for the Blues.
However, Smith appears to have more of an inside role and it was clear with images showing the whole team and the coach listening to him at half-time. A number of questions were raised over Smith's role during Origin and whether it was a 'conflict of interest'. However, many also praised Smith's influence and saw no issue with his work.
cam smith half time pep talk? yes baby, hes mindmelding withbthem, revealing his secrets.. the accountant prevails.. pic.twitter.com/ShZ5IDjBJg
— shirto (@shirtsyshirts) May 31, 2023
I think it’s absurd the commentary team comprised of two assistant coaches/mentors (Smith & Johns).
If they’re involved in the camp, they shouldn’t commentate. Simple. https://t.co/FBB5Igx9Nh
— Charles Haig (@charles_haig01) May 31, 2023
Imagine having Cameron Smith and Johnathan Thurston to help give a half time team talk😅
— Ryan Tawn (@ryan__tawn) May 31, 2023
— Mancave Sports Australia (@mancavesportsoz) May 31, 2023
Billy Slater praises Queensland after epic victory
Regardless of what fans think of Smith's dual role, whatever was said at half-time from Slater and the former No.9 worked. And Slater was full of praise for his men considering they will return home with a 1-0 win and a chance to wrap up the series.
"I'm sure NSW is the same… but Queensland goes through drought, cyclones, flood, they go through a lot of adversity and we try and represent our people in that way as well. "I think that's what makes our people so proud of this footy team and that's why this footy team is such an inspiration for our people."
The Maroons had to overcome plenty of adversity with Tom Gilbert (shoulder) and Cobbo (hip) unable to finish the game, while David Fifita, Murray Taulagi (both head injury assessment) and Tom Flegler (sin-bin) had to spend time out of the game
With Game II at their Suncorp Stadium fortress on June 21, the Maroons will be confident that they can hold onto the shield.
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