NRL fans have hit out over the State of Origin trophy celebrations with Maroons captain Daly Cherry-Evans lifting the shield in front of a subdued audience in Sydney. The Blues stopped another rare clean sweep in the Origin arena on Wednesday night with Cody Walker helping give the side some energy in their Game III win over the Maroons.
Down 2-0 heading into Wednesday's home clash at Sydney's Accor Stadium, Brad Fittler's Blues put some pride back in the jersey with a gutsy effort in front of 75,342 fans. Walker was the pick of the Blues' performers and was named man of the match in a result which ensured NSW avoided becoming the first team in 13 years to be on the wrong end of a series clean sweep.
However, the Maroons won't be devastated having wrapped-up back-to-back Origin series wins under coach Billy Slater. While the new Blues players celebrated their efforts in a glimpse of the future, the Maroons gathered for the trophy ceremony.
Although not many Blues fans were sticking around as Accor Stadium started to empty. For viewers at home, what made matters worse was players weren't allowed to conduct interviews after the match due to the Rugby League Players' Association media boycott underway.
Despite the snub, the captains had agreed to speak briefly at the presentation. But instead of a raucous atmosphere in front of their home crowd, Cherry-Evans and the Queensland team enjoyed a rather subdued atmosphere.
NRL fans question Origin trophy presentation
The shield presentation awarded to the winning state has always been after Game III of Origin. Although many on social media questioned why a larger presentation isn't performed right after the Maroons won their title back at home.
Instead, at least for the broadcast, Cherry-Evans lifted the shield in a rather 'dull' atmosphere. NRL fans called for a change in tradition to add more life into a ceremony that takes place around 10:00pm local time. Many also took exception to the booing of Cherry-Evans from the New South Wales fans who had stuck around as he got up to speak.
Qld should have received the shield at their home ground after the series win.
It's ridiculous having it after the fact in Sydney. #Origin
— Sandy Hunter (@sandyhunter2) July 12, 2023
Why wouldn’t you have the shield and NRL powerbrokers up in QLD for Game 2 in case they closed it out there?
Seems so easy to fix the dead response to a winning side celebrating to an away crowd. #Origin
— Nathan (@SeaEagleSpur) July 12, 2023
That shield presentation just proves QLD should’ve got the shield after game 2. That was dull #Origin
— Brad (@bradfogarty101) July 12, 2023
— Nixx (@nikkkicorn) July 12, 2023
— Ryan (@RyanSpriggins) July 12, 2023
Lose the game, get given a shield 👍🤣 Make sure you stick around for your team NSW fans, they won 😉😉😉😉😉😅😅😅😅😅😅 #Origin
— patrick (@patrick43486956) July 12, 2023
this is why states should be allowed to have the shield awarded to them in game two if they win it in their home state. qld deserved to lift that shield at suncorp #Origin
— abby (@lowkeyabby) July 12, 2023
This game again proving why the shield should be presented when the series is won. Queensland likely to lift it on enemy territory after a loss. A bit hollow for both teams. #origin
— Ed Jackson (@edjacko) July 12, 2023
Fittler would have been very unlikely to keep his position as Blues coach if the Maroons achieved the first series clean sweep in 13 years. However, fans will now wait to see if Fittler gets another chance at redemption next year.
After the game, Fittler was full of praise for Rabbitohs star Walker for his contribution in Game III. "Cody made a massive difference and he came up with some really nice passes," Fittler said.
"We had a plan and stuck to it and other than a try at the start we got urgent in the second half. It shows how hard it is to win three games."
Slater rued the chance achieving a clean sweep, but admitted the Maroons deserved their shield for the second-straight year.
"My coach at the Melbourne Storm (Craig Bellamy) used to say, 'you get what you deserve', and I felt NSW deserved to win tonight," Slater said. "I feel the (Queensland) team deserves the series.
"We just weren't willing to earn what we earned in the first two games and we put a lot of pressure on ourselves."
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