Api Koroisau’s brutal Origin injury blow sparks massive NRL debate

The Blues' injury list keeps getting bigger ahead of State of Origin II.

Api Koroisau was left with a broken jaw after this clash with Tino Fa'asuamaleaui, a massive blow for both the Tigers and NSW Blues. Pictures: Getty Images/Fox Sports
Api Koroisau was left with a broken jaw after this clash with Tino Fa'asuamaleaui, a massive blow for both the Tigers and NSW Blues. Pictures: Getty Images/Fox Sports

The NSW Blues plans for Origin II have been thrown into further chaos, after Api Koroisau was sidelined with a broken jaw after an attempted tackle on Tino Fa'asuamaleaui during the Wests Tigers' loss to the Gold Coast Titans on Thursday night. Already faced with a brutal injury list featuring the likes of Nathan Cleary, Cameron Murray and Latrell Mitchell, Blues coach Brad Fittler said Fa'asuamaleaui needed to take his 'duty of care' towards opponents more seriously.

Tigers coach Tim Sheens said Koroisau was expected to miss at least six weeks, having gotten straight into an ambulance after leaving the field. Fa'asuamaleaui was placed on report, albeit only after extensive replay reviews from the Bunker, but it was revealed on Friday morning that he will not be charged as a result.

HUGE: Cooper Cronk's Blues Origin gamble amid sad Nicho Hynes reality

BACK OFF: Laurie Daley blasts Blues supporters over Fittler Origin drama

The latest incident featuring the bruising Titans and Queensland big man comes after he accepted a fine for a somewhat similar incident involving Canterbury's Reed Mahoney. Asked by Darren Lockyer after the game if he feared a potential ban as a result of the contact, Fa'asuamaleaui replied that rugby league is a 'contact sport'.

"I'm running as hard as I can and Api's going in there to put a big hit on and he just came off second best," he said. "I'm hoping nothing comes of it and it's just a contact sport at the end of the day."

A key difference between the incidents with Koroisau and Mahoney was which arm the former was collected with. Koroisau copped the shot from Fa'asuamaleaui's left arm, which was carrying the ball. In Mahoney's case, Fa'asuamaleaui had braced with his right arm.

Nevertheless, Fittler said Fa'asuamaleaui needed to find the line between his explosive ability and causing unnecessary injuries to NRL rivals. He did concede that it was a 'fine line' for the Titans star to ride.

" It's a contact game, but if it was just contact then it can get very dangerous out there and there will be a lot of injuries," Fittler said on Channel 9. "It's the second time he's done it to a hooker, he knocked out Reed Mahoney a couple of weeks ago.

"He flies very close to the line with his tackling as well. It's spectacular at times, so you don't want to take it completely out of the game, but there's plenty of times where he doesn't wrap his arm around either.

"It's a contact game, but there's also a duty of care as well."

Brutal hit sparks debate among State of Origin greats

The addition of various State of Origin coaches to Channel 9's coverage gave the subsequent debate some interesting flavour, with Queensland great Cameron Smith questioning what he was supposed to do with his call carrying arm as Koroisau attempted to lay the tackle. Fellow Maroons legend Paul Vautin said it was 'no good' that Koroisau had come off second best, but added that it has been common practice to defend yourself at the onset of a tackle.

"It's no good that Api's got a busted jaw, I've seen the previous Tino incidents and it's not a great look, but every forward that looks up and runs into four or five or six forwards, they lift their arms," Vautin said. "I did it a million times.

Tino Fa'asuamaleaui embraces two teammates.
Tino Fa'asuamaleaui has escaped a charge after a brutal hit on Wests Tigers' Api Koroisau. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

"You lift your arms for protection, not to attack the player, but just for your own protection from the players who are trying to tackle you. Every player does it and has been doing it since 1908. I'm not going to say Api Koroisau has had his head in the wrong place, but it's just an accident."

The MRC declined to charge Fa'asuamaleaui on Friday morning, paving the way for him to line up in Game II, when the Maroons have the chance to close out the series. Fa'asuamaleaui believed fellow Titans prop Moeaki Fotuaika deserved to play his first game for Queensland since 2021 after another strong performance against the Tigers.

The Maroons are already without key forwards Jai Arrow (syndesmosis) and Tom Gilbert (shoulder surgery) for the rest of the series and Fotuaika is one of at least seven players in contention.

With AAP

Sign up to our newsletter and score the biggest sport stories of the week.