State of Origin drama erupts over NSW player's 'grubby' acts
The Courier Mail newspaper in Queensland has lit the fuse for State of Origin II after calling out Liam Martin over the NSW forward's 'grubby' acts.
In an article on Tuesday, the newspaper pinpointed four incidents of alleged foul play involving the Penrith second-rower in the opening game of the series.
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The four incidents all occurred in the space of four minutes in Game I in Sydney, which Queensland won 16-10.
They included an alleged swinging arm to the back of Cameron Munster’s head in the 64th minute, a forearm to Dane Gagai’s throat (65th minute), rubbing his head into Kurt Capewell’s face (67th minute) and digging his elbow into Munster’s ribs (68th minute).
In highlighting the "feral plays", the publication declared “Queensland finally has a new Blues player to hate” after Martin's “grubby rampage.”
Vision of the four incidents was shown on NRL 360 on Tuesday night, with the panel defending Martin's actions.
“This is what you want in Origin... Liam was doing his job here,” Braith Anasta said.
Paul Kent responded: “100 per cent. I’d like to see NSW come back tomorrow with their own dirt file on Queensland
“I actually quite like this. I think it’s good, it’s quite spicy for the Origin build up. I think Game I we were lacking a little bit.
“There’s clearly been talk from somewhere up there about this.
“We all know how newspapers work, they’re not just thought up in editorial rooms these sort of things - they generally come from someone that’s been involved with cutting vision.
“I thought Liam Martin was terrific in Game I and I think he brought some of the physicality that NSW really need - and he needs to do it again.”
Queensland players react to Liam Martin furore
To their credit, a number of Queensland players took the high road when asked about the story.
“I don’t actually know what you’re talking about,” Harry Grant said on NRL 360.
“I thought the grubbiest player just had to be Tino Fa’asuamaleaui because he never showers... but I’m not sure, I haven’t really seen any of that or looked into it.
“But you know what it’s like, it’s Origin footy, it’s a lot more physical and faster than NRL and everyone goes up a level.”
Capewell, who played with Martin at the Panthers before joining the Broncos this year, also refused to be drawn into the controversy.
“There is always a little bit of that niggle between players,” Capewell told the Courier Mail.
“It’s something that makes Origin so good. It’s a game full of passion and ‘Marto’ has definitely got that in his game.
“He is definitely aggressive and a powerful player who can be hard to handle at times.
“Me and Marto get along really well. It’s always good to have a bit of a duel with one of your mates.
“I’ll be looking forward to that in game two. I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
Maroons captain Daly Cherry-Evans added: “Defensively, he gets stuck in and isn’t afraid to rough you up.
“That Panthers system has created a really hardworking mentality, in particular for the back-rowers, whether it’s (Viliame) Kikau or Liam Martin coming to get you, they do a lot of work from the inside and Martin brings a lot of those traits to the NSW team.
“Liam gets through a lot of work and he is such a determined player. He never wants to let his teammates down, he gets stuck in and it’s really clear in his playing style."
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