Brad Fittler's swipe at referee after NSW loss in State of Origin I

·Sports Editor
·3-min read
Brad Fittler, pictured here taking a dig at referee Ashley Klein after the State of Origin series opener.
Brad Fittler took a dig at referee Ashley Klein after the State of Origin series opener. Image: Omnisport

NSW coach Brad Fittler has taken a not-so-subtle swipe at referee Ashley Klein after Queensland's win in the State of Origin series opener.

Cameron Munster was at his brilliant best as Queensland shocked NSW to win 16-10 in Sydney on Wednesday night and take a 1-0 lead away from home.

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It was a remarkable win in rookie coach Billy Slater's debut, however counterpart Fittler was less than impressed.

When asked in his post-match press conference where things went wrong, Fittler was critical of referee Klein.

"They won the ruck. They did a really good job there," Fittler said.

"They held on and (referee) Ashley (Klein) didn't want to give penalties away.

"We got a penalty with 17 minutes to go, it was the first penalty.

"We should have done a better job. We should have held them down longer - simple."

NSW were awarded four set restarts for ruck infringements, but struggled to slow down a Queensland attack that played direct with Munster and Daly Cherry-Evans on the front foot.

Queensland's domination of the ruck came with the return of the likes of Slater and Cameron Smith in the Maroons camp, with the play-the-ball an area they dominated during their decade of success.

Captain James Tedesco admitted he was unsure if Queensland had simply grown better in the tackle or if officials were not as stringent as in last year's lightening-paced series.

"It's hard to tell. There were no penalties," Tedesco said.

"They were probably holding us down for that extra second. It didn't allow us to free that space around the ruck and play with the freedom we wanted to."

Referee Ashley Klein, pictured here awarding a penalty in State of Origin Game I.
Referee Ashley Klein awards a penalty in State of Origin Game I. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

NSW left fuming over controversial calls

Fittler also said he would await a response from the NRL on a number of other crucial calls.

The Blues believed a forward-pass call that denied Tedesco a try that would have put the hosts 8-0 up was line ball, and claimed Kalyn Ponga's ball in the lead up to Dane Gagai's try moments later was also marginal.

Tedesco also questioned whether Cherry-Evans' second-half try had come after Junior Paulo had been illegally held back in a scrum.

"I thought Junior Paulo's one, he was held in the scrum," Fittler said.

"It will be interesting to speak to Jared and his view on the ball going forward and Junior being held.

"But at the end of the day I don't know if it made a difference."

Daly Cherry-Evans, pictured here celebrating after scoring a try in the State of Origin opener.
Daly Cherry-Evans celebrates after scoring a try in the State of Origin opener. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Queensland's win in the series opener has left NSW needing to win two on the road to retain the Origin shield, ahead of games in Perth and Brisbane.

Only three NSW sides in Origin history have come back to win the series after dropping the first game - in 1994, 2005 and 2019.

While Queensland found spark through the middle after the opening 20 minutes, NSW had no such joy until late in the match.

Blues hooker Damien Cook was unable to run the ball at all in the first half, while no NSW forward topped 100 metres for the game.

That came in direct contrast to last year, where NSW dominated Queensland in the middle and gave their speedy outside backs the space and time to dominate.

with AAP

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