Queensland great rips Brad Fittler over State of Origin controversy

Brad Fittler, pictured here speaking to the media ahead of State of Origin II in Perth.
Brad Fittler speaks to the media ahead of State of Origin II in Perth. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

Queensland great Brent Tate has taken issue with Brad Fittler's meeting with referee Ashley Klein before State of Origin II, with the Blues squaring the series at 1-1 on Sunday night after a 44-12 thrashing.

Fittler was fuming about Klein's performance in the opening game of the series and took aim at the referee in his post-match press conference.

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

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

Fittler then met with Klein before the second game on Sunday night to discuss his gripes personally with the referee.

But according to Tate, he shouldn't have been allowed to do that.

“I don’t like the fact we are talking about Ashley Klein, I don’t like the fact that Freddy has met with him, I think at the end of the day it is a really tough one,” Tate said before Game II.

“The refereeing and the officiating doesn’t determine the game, you do, by going out there and getting the job done.

“How hard you run and how hard you fight to get a quick play the ball, which determines if you get a penalty or not or if you have quick ruck speed.

“That is on the Blues and sometimes you should just let that go and try and be better like they will in the second game.

“Is it Blues whinging? Absolutely it is so let’s hope it doesn’t influence the outcome too much.”

Felise Kaufusi, pictured here after being sent to the sin-bin in State of Origin II.
Felise Kaufusi looks on after being sent to the sin-bin in State of Origin II. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images) (Mark Kolbe via Getty Images)

Unfortunately for Queensland, Fittler's tactics appeared to do the trick on Sunday night.

This time it was the Maroons fans who were left raging about the refereeing, with Klein's decision to send Felise Kaufusi to the sin-bin sparking the most controversy.

Klein had pinged the Maroons for a number of back-to-back infringements late in the first half when NSW were camped on Queensland's line.

Skipper Daly Cherry-Evans twice handed NSW fresh sets of six, while hooker Harry Grant gifted one to the Blues with an attempt to slow down the ruck.

It was the fourth of the infringements which prompted Klein to lay down the law when Kaufusi was part of a tackle to halt NSW prop Junior Paulo on the line.

Kaufusi lay over Paulo for the best part of 10 seconds, prompting Klein to send the Maroons back-rower for a 10-minute spell.

Ashley Klein, pictured here sending Felise Kaufusi to the sin-bin during Game II of the State of Origin series.
Ashley Klein sends Felise Kaufusi to the sin-bin during Game II of the State of Origin series. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images) (Mark Kolbe via Getty Images)

Controversy erupts over State of Origin refereeing

State of Origin greats Paul Vautin and Phil Gould were both critical of the decision while speaking at half-time, while Fittler's name was on the lips of many a Queensland fan.

"Truly shocked to see NSW’s customary complaint to Ash Klein after being carved up in Game One has had the desired effect. Disgrace," tweeted Sam Phillips.

Luke Bradman from Channel Nine wrote: "Early indication is Freddie’s whinge to the referees worked."

Earlier, Tate said: “It is going to be fascinating to see how he refs the match because there has been so much in the media and so much talk around ‘Freddy’ Fittler meeting with him.

“I think early on we will have a real indication of how he will ref the match, I still hope it is a free-flowing match, that is what Origin is about.

“Origin is about pushing the boundaries, it is about trying to pinch every advantage you can and both teams will be pushing the boundaries of the ruck speed and playing off-side, so that is what Origin is about.”

Turns out he was spot on.

with AAP

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