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Nathan Cleary was reportedly among a number of players apologising to NSW legends in the dressing rooms after the Blues' loss in the State of Origin decider.
Cleary has once again come under fire for his underwhelming performance on Wednesday night after NSW blew a 12-10 half-time lead to lose 22-12 in Game III.
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The NSW halfback set up a try for Jerome Luai in the first half with a lovely kick, but was accused of going missing in the second half as Queensland gained the ascendancy.
NSW legend Benny Elias revealed on Thursday that shattered players were apologising to him after the game.
“I went into the dressing room after the game and they were mortified,” Elias said on the Fox League podcast.
“It was very sad. Players were coming up to me and saying sorry Benny, sorry mate.
“I said, 'what are you being sorry about?' I said, 'what the hell? Be very proud'.
“They did us proud. We got beat whoopdedoo. It’s not the end of the world. They did us proud.”
Daily Telegraph reporter Dave Riccio revealed Cleary was one of the players who felt they needed to apologise.
“It was unbelievable the difference in emotions for both camps,” Riccio said on Triple M radio.
“I walked into the Blues dressing room and honestly it was like a morgue.
“Shattered faces. Nathan Cleary apologising. Matt Burton spoke to the media with his swollen cheekbone.
“Jacob Saifiti, the Blues prop who was outstanding on debut, said it was all for nothing. He said, ‘I don’t even want to remember my debut’.
“The Blues were absolutely shattered.”
Elias said he had one clear message for the Blues players.
“I just said to them, 'just remember the hurt in 12 months time',” Elias said.
“That’s all we can do because we learn form that.
“Remember the hurt of what you are feeling right now and try and generate it in 12 months time and guess what? It’s pay back.
“That’s the way we start today and we start working for next year. It is called payback. That’s our theme and we are going to go for it.
“We are going to embarrass them 3-0. That’s our answer to the disappointment.
“But you can’t not be proud of those boys last night.”
Nathan Cleary under fire after State of Origin loss
Cleary came under fire for his post-match comments when he said the loss 'sucks'.
One fan wrote on Twitter: "They just don't get it. No Queenslander would be caught dead saying that after a series loss. They just don't get it."
Another commented: "I thought the same, DCE was nearly in tears after managing to pull the win out, he would've been inconsolable if they had lost.
"Clearly seemed slightly upset but definitely none of the passion that the maroon boys were showing."
The loss was the second in the space of three years that Brad Fittler's side have had the chance to wrap up the series, only for Queensland to claim the decider.
It was also Queensland's ninth win in the last 10 series deciders.
"Queensland were definitely the better team," Fittler said.
"I've been doing this a long time and you win and lose - it's just disappointing.
"The guys have worked so hard and sacrificed in and amongst club footy. Normally that's what makes people strive harder, and we've got to be better."
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