The war-of-words between the Blues and Maroons have continued with Brad Fittler's selection of Tevita Pangai Junior and Hudson Young deemed a 'smokescreen'. Fittler is reported to have picked firebrands Pangai Jnr and Young in an attempt to fight fire with fire after Game III in 2022.
Queensland stood tall and dominated the Blues and one incident highlighted how the Maroons weren't backing down in the decider. Matt Burton was caught in the backfield in a scrap that saw Dane Gagai throw a number of punches, before Tino Fa'asuamaleaui entered the fray.
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The Blues were a little slow in helping Burton and Fittler has reportedly opted for two fiery forwards to hold their own. However, the Maroons have claimed it was the Blues that started the roughhouse tactics in the first place.
There were a number of incidents that occurred off the ball, which prompted captain Daly Cherry-Evans to complain to referee Ashley Klein about the treatment his teammates were getting. “All game, all series, they’ve taken us out off the ball. All series. All series. What did you expect to happen? They can’t keep doing that shit,” Cherry-Evans said.
And Maroons hooker Ben Hunt confirmed their frustration this week when he admitted a number of players had reached boiling point during Game III ahead of the Burton incident.
Penrith and Blues lock Isaah Yeo said the team will be quicker to back up their players this year after the incident involving Burton and Gagai. Many have pointed to these incidents as to why fireworks can be expected on Wednesday in Adelaide.
Matty Johns calls for Blues forwards to ignore media
However, Johns has revealed he doesn't think it will be a good idea for the Blues to be seeking confrontation. The former NSW five-eighth said it hasn't always gone down well in the past when the Blues have initiated the confrontations.
He called for Pangai Jnr to ignore the media before running out in the Blues jersey. “The thing for Tevita is it would be wise for him to avoid a lot of the commentary as the game gets closer,” Johns said.
“This Tevita vs Queensland pack. Because I think when you get that sort of narrative and players start to buy into it, it can be a bit of a distraction or a powder keg.”
And Maroons great Gorden Tallis wasn't buying into the tension. He claimed the Blues could be using Pangai Jnr as a 'smokescreen' when it comes to revving up the Maroons.
“Just watching the footage (from Game Three), Tino is 15 metres behind the play, grabbing a breath and he is the closest guy to it,” Tallis said on NRL 360.
“He went to help a mate. He didn’t run in to do that. It has been a long time and I think they are making a bit out of that. It could be a smokescreen. The more I think about it, I think Tevita is a bit of a smokescreen."
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