Cameron Smith caught in telling act amid State of Origin controversy

·Sports Editor
·4-min read
Cameron Smith, pictured here reacting to Patrick Carrigan winning man of the series.
Cameron Smith's reaction to Patrick Carrigan winning man of the series said it all. Image: Channel 9

No one was more surprised that Patrick Carrigan was named man of the series after the State of Origin decider than Carrigan himself, but Cameron Smith might have been a close second.

A magnificent debut Origin series for the Queensland back-rower ended with the Broncos star collecting the Wally Lewis Medal as player of the series.

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Carrigan, who came off the bench in the first two games but started for the first time in Wednesday's decider, played a pivotal role as the Maroons defied losing two players in the opening four minutes to claim a 22-12 win at Suncorp Stadium.

The Brisbane forward ran for 130 metres and made 45 tackles in another brilliant display after impressing on debut in Sydney then being one of Queensland's best in their Game II loss in Perth.

However there was some controversy in the aftermath of the decision to award Carrigan the man of the series, with many believing that Game III man of the match Kalyn Ponga was more deserving.

Carrigan admitted in his acceptance speech that he felt Ponga or NSW captain James Tedesco should have won the medal.

"I don't know what to say," a stunned Carrigan said on stage after initially missing the announcement that he'd won.

"I just want to say a big thanks to the Queenslanders who came out tonight.

"It was a tough series and the first five minutes really showed what it was about.

"I think one of the fullbacks should probably be wearing this (medal)."

Carrigan had to be prompted by teammates to go up on stage to accept the medal after not hearing his name being announced.

Former Queensland captain Smith, now an assistant coach for the Maroons, was equally as stunned and was spotted asking those around him who had won the gong.

Cameron Smith, pictured here after hearing Patrick Carrigan had won man of the series.
Cameron Smith was stunned to hear Patrick Carrigan had won man of the series. Image: Channel 9

Patrick Carrigan thought he was being pranked

Carrigan later admitted he thought he was being pranked when teammates, coaching staff and even NRL officials directed him to the stage.

"None of us heard it and Smithy (Cameron Smith) was pushing me out and then the boys were pushing me, I thought it was a stitch up," Carrigan said.

"I was trying to hide and then the girls from the NRL were pushing me. I didn't really know what was going on.

"I was just stoked to get a series win and play along some of these guys. There's guys I played junior footy with who I grew up with and then guys like Paps (Josh Papalii) that you looked up to, Gags (Dane Gagai), those sort of players."

Patrick Carrigan, pictured here in action for Queensland during State of Origin III.
Patrick Carrigan in action for Queensland during State of Origin III. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Ponga was named man of the match in the decider after he scored the crucial try that put Queensland ahead for good.

He also ran for 299 metres, made 18 tackle breaks, three line breaks and had four offloads in one of the great individual performances in Origin history.

“I am super proud and the coaches and support staff. Proud of myself to be honest as well," the Newcastle fullback said.

"This is my first series win. It is a pretty surreal feeling. I kind of felt it throughout the series.

“I felt like we were building even into this game. We had a bump in the road Game II.

“We had full faith in the boys who stepped in and Tom Dearden was awesome tonight. Once we dealt with it we moved on.”

with AAP

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