'Kidding himself': Wayne Bennett savaged over 'ridiculous' post-match claim

Sam Goodwin
·Sports Editor
·3-min read
Wayne Bennett, pictured here speaking to the media after Queensland's loss in State of Origin II.
Wayne Bennett spoke to the media after Queensland's loss in State of Origin II. Image: Fox Sports

Paul Kent has ridiculed Wayne Bennett after the Queensland coach claimed a newspaper story sparked an ugly melee in State of Origin II on Wednesday night.

NSW enforcer Payne Haas and Queensland hardman Tino Fa’asuamaleaui were both marched to the sin bin during an explosive second-half all-in melee at ANZ Stadium.

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Their dismissals came hours after a newspaper story recalled how Haas and Fa’asuamaleaui clashed and sledged each other during an under-18s Origin game three years ago.

Fa’asuamaleaui's manager even claimed his charge “sat Haas on his arse”, prompting Bennett to take exception in the bitter aftermath to the Maroons' 34-10 mauling at the hands of the rampant Blues.

“I just saw the headline he and Payne going for each other,” Bennett said.

“They are young men - 20 years of age. Headlines throw fuel on the fire. I knew deep down there was going to be a blue between the pair of them.

“(If) that's not a headline today, I don't believe it happens.

“They would've read the paper. It stirs the emotion. They have to be responsible for their actions, I accept that.

“It didn't come out of nowhere. It was already brewing from this morning.”

But reacting to Bennett’s comments after the game on Wednesday night, veteran league journo Kent couldn’t believe what he was hearing.

“Just ridiculous, absolutely ridiculous, Wayne is kidding himself,” Kent said on Fox League.

Tino Fa'asuamaleaui and Payne Haas, pictured here punching on during State of Origin II.
Tino Fa'asuamaleaui and Payne Haas were both sin-binned. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

“This is a rivalry between these two kids who are 20-years-old. Wayne started to go the right way, they’re young men, they get carried away.

“The fact is it goes back to when they were schoolboys. They didn’t read something in the paper to realise they don’t like the other bloke. To suggest that they’ve read this story today...

“We continually get told from within camp that, ‘I didn’t see the story, I don’t read the papers’. That’s half the problem with Origin, you’ve got to go around and find these stories outside of what’s going on between the teams because no one talks anymore.

“So (journalist) Peter Badel’s gone and found this story about these two guys who since schoolboys haven’t liked each other and have always gone after each other.

“To suggest this is the reason for this, it’s ridiculous.”

Payne Haas plays down State of Origin brawl

Bennett was asked if he spoke with Fa'asuamaleaui before the game about his fears of a “blue”.

“No. I hoped it would blow over,” he said.

Haas was quick to play down the fight.

“I couldn't even get punches away,” he told Channel Nine.

“Heaps of boys were holding me back. It was heat of the moment. Tino and I are good mates.

“I just saw red. My grandmother and my mum are probably going to get up me after all this.”

Haas and Fa'asuamaleaui face an anxious wait to learn if they will be charged by the NRL match review committee on Thursday, which would place the pair in doubt for next week's series decider in Brisbane.

with AAP

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