NSW five-eighth Jarome Luai has been widely condemned by commentators and fans after appearing to taunt an unconscious Selwyn Cobbo in the State of Origin decider.
A brutal opening to Game III at Suncorp Stadium saw three players knocked out of the game with concussion, the worst of which was Cobbo.
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The Queensland winger copped some friendly fire after a tackle on NSW centre Matt Burton, which resulted in Cobbo lying prone on the ground on his back.
Despite Cobbo appearing to be unconscious, Luai stood over the top of his opponent and seemingly taunted him with some choice words.
Queensland players took exception to Luai's actions, sparking a melee while Cobbo was still lying on the ground.
While Luai might have simply been praising Burton for the tough run, commentators and fans had no doubt his words were directed at Cobbo.
Jacob Shields of the ABC tweeted: “Unfortunate start to Origin, but that was disgusting from Jerome Luai to stand over Cobbo flexing after he’s out cold on the ground clearly knocked out.
"Could have been seriously injured and he’s flexing over him being all tough?? Very grubby, gross stuff.”
Lachlan McKirdy of CODE Sports wrote: “Jarome Luai standing over Cobbo is going to become a defining Origin image.”
Others labelled it a 'terrible' and 'disgraceful' act.
Unfortunate start to Origin, but that was disgusting from Jerome Luai to stand over Cobbo flexing after he’s out cold on the ground clearly knocked out… could have been seriously injured and he’s flexing over him being all tough?? Very grubby, gross stuff. #StateofOrigin
— Jacob Shields (@_jacobshields) July 13, 2022
Luai is my fave but that was a terrible look. Hope he learns from that one & hope Cobbo is okay 😥
— Nat Sinclair (@nat_sinclair93) July 13, 2022
Jerome Luai = massive flog. Disgusting behaviour standing over a player knocked out .. makes you a tough man huh #wanker
— Lisa (@groovygales) July 13, 2022
I get passion. I get wanting to win. But this… this isn’t that. It’s disgusting. Completely unsportsmanlike, the man is concussed and you’re screaming. Grub act Luai. #stateoforigin https://t.co/uJbNJBNI7P
— Amanda (@manda_L2) July 13, 2022
Like I’m so infuriated watching the replay of him doing that. Filthy, disgusting, abhorrent, I have so many words to describe what Luai did there. And it’s just cemented my attitude towards him
— Hayley (@Hayleyyemma) July 13, 2022
The difference here mate is quite simple. Jai did this immediately after the drop, there was no time to know that Teddy was knocked out. Luai knew that Cobbo was clearly out cold. Luai is a disgrace. Shameful.
— SLR (@SLR________) July 13, 2022
Luai is a disgrace, standing over an unconscious player is really tough
— David Jovanov (@davidjovanov) July 13, 2022
Queensland overcome early carnage to win Origin decider
NSW forward Cameron Murray was the first casualty as three players were knocked out of the game in the opening four minutes.
Lindsay Collins then joined Cobbo on the sidelines in a frenzied opening that left the Maroons down to just two players on their interchange bench and scrambling to rearrange their team with 76 minutes still to play.
Despite a stretcher being called, Cobbo got to his feet, albeit in a neck brace, before being taken from the field.
Incredibly, within minutes of the game restarting a third man was knocked out of the match when Collins copped a stray elbow from Daniel Tupou after the Blues' winger was hit so hard by Tom Gilbert he bounced away into the unfortunate Maroons prop.
With Kurt Capewell moving to centre and Dane Gagai taking Cobbo's place on the wing, Collins' absence meant Queensland's middle forwards were facing a mountain of work.
Queensland struck first on the scoreboard, with Valentine Holmes scoring in the 12th minute before tries to Luai and NSW debutant Jacob Saifiti for the visitors.
A Capewell try right on half-time reduced the deficit to two at the break before Queensland outfought, outran and outlasted NSW in a remarkable second-half display.
Kalyn Ponga put the Maroons ahead in the 60th minute and after NSW repelled several Queensland raids, Ben Hunt's runaway winner in the 79th minute sealed the win and the series in another famous backs to the wall victory.
"We did in front of our fans, friends and family against all the odds and it makes it so special," Queensland captain Daly Cherry-Evans said.
Rookie Queensland coach Billy Slater said: "It was a unique game ... I don't know if I've seen a start to a game like that before.
"It was courageous ... that's as good a Queensland victory as I've ever seen.
"I don't think I've been any prouder of a team I've been involved in."
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