Gorden Tallis whacks Michael Maguire as Billy Slater responds to NSW State of Origin barb

Comments from the Blues coach about the Joseph Suaalii incident have lit the fuse for Game 2.

Maroons legend Gorden Tallis has taken a brutal shot at Michael Maguire over comments the NSW coach made in the build up to State of Origin Game 2, that were widely accepted to be aimed at Queensland counterpart, Billy Slater. The Blues coach lit the fuse for the second game of the series at the MCG on June 26 after warning Queenslanders about living in "glass houses", following their response to NSW centre Joseph Suaalii's send off in Game 1 for the high shot on Reece Walsh.

Suaalii came under fire after the incident, with the likes of Maroons greats and assistant coaches Johnathan Thurston and Nate Myles both suggesting NSW deliberately targeted the superstar QLD fullback. Slater, however, refused to comment on the incident in the immediate aftermath and in his post-match press conference. And he only opened up a little about it days later on Nine's Sunday Footy Show.

From left to right, Gorden Tallis, NSW State of Origin coach Michael Maguire and QLD coach, Billy Slater.
Gorden Tallis has taken a shot at NSW State of Origin coach Michael Maguire after comments he made that many thought were aimed at QLD coach, Billy Slater. Pic: Fox League/Getty

"I honestly don't like watching it too much, it's pretty sickening and it's not good for our game," Slater said about the incident. "I can't imagine too many mums and dads would want to throw their kids in the car and take them and sign them up after watching this sort of stuff. I was really disappointed, because I know how hard he [Walsh] prepared for the game and he had great clarity around what his game looked like.

"He was ready to go after it and that was taken away from him only seven minutes into the contest. I haven't commented on the incident... I don't think my comments are gonna do the game or any individuals involved in the incident any benefit." Slater's comments seem to be focused more on his concern for Walsh than a swipe at Suaalii. Yet the assumption from many is that Maguire was referring to the QLD coach when he made the "glass houses" reference.

Slater was interviewed on NRL 360 on Monday night and asked by The Australian's Brent Read for his response to the apparent shot from Maguire. But the Maroons coach gave the veteran league journalist absolutely nothing and pointed out on several occasions that he had not commented on the Suaalii incident.

"Nah. I purposely didn’t comment on that incident if you listen to the press conference... I think you might need to check my comments." When the interview finished, the NRL 360 panel commented on the awkwardness of the exchange between Slater and Read, who insisted that the Maroons coach had made comments widely accepted to be aimed at Maguire.

“I wasn’t having a go at Billy, I was giving him the opportunity to respond to Madge... I assumed he had seen the comments from Madge but obviously he hasn’t seen them," Read said. "I’m sure if he had seen them we would have got a different reaction out of him because Madge made the glass houses comments and everyone assumed they were directed at Billy."

Pictured left to right is NSW coach Michael Maguire and Joseph Suaalii.
NSW coach Michael Maguire has defended Joseph Suaalii after the backlash around his State of Origin send-off. Pic: Getty

QLD great Tallis also weighed in on the drama with a savage shot at Maguire. He suggested that if the NSW coach's comments were a shot at Slater's disciplinary record during his playing days, then he'd crossed a line. Tallis said he had no issues with the Maroons talking about NSW players targeting Walsh and pointed out that it's something Slater would understand well after being targeted by opposition teams throughout his playing career.

“If Madge wants to have a go at another coach it should be about his coaching career, not about his playing career because when Billy talks about a guy getting targeted, he’d know because there’s no player that was targeted more than Billy Slater in his era,” Tallis said. I played against Madge and he probably was never targeted, no one even knew he was on the field.”