'Can't believe it': Major backlash over State of Origin 'gee-up'

·Sports Reporter
·3-min read
Daly Cherry-Evans endeavour to set up a gentlemen's agreement between Queensland and New South Wales has been met with some degree of ridicule. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)
Daly Cherry-Evans endeavour to set up a gentlemen's agreement between Queensland and New South Wales has been met with some degree of ridicule. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

A 'gentlemen's agreement' between Queensland and New South Wales ahead of game one of State of Origin has been panned by some of the sport's leading reporters.

Despite the rough and tumble history of Origin, Queensland captain Daly Cherry-Evans reportedly initiated an understanding between the two teams that no player would stay on the ground to milk a penalty for a high shot.

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The agreement comes amid the NRL's crackdown on high shots, with a spate of penalties and send-offs in recent weeks happening in a bid to reduce the amount of head injuries and concussions sustained by players.

Cherry-Evans' move to reach out to the Blues camp left many commentators unhappy though.

Veteran NRL reporter Danny Weidler described the move as a 'gee-up' when interviewed on Big Sports Breakfast on Tuesday morning.

“I can’t believe that before an Origin — Paul Gallen used to talk about how the Queenslanders had two heads and how he hated Queensland — now we’ve got Daly Cherry-Evans, with all due respect, talking about a gentlemen’s agreement," he said.

“Please, this is supposed to be State of Origin.

“I can’t believe the chat that’s going on around Origin. It’s been very submissive and very friendly. I don’t know if I’m loving the way the game’s going at the moment.”

New South Wales great Laurie Daley was similarly unimpressed.

He argued the two teams should simply get on with the business of playing rugby league.

“I don’t want to see this gentlemen’s agreement thing. What I want to see is just two teams going at it," he said.

State of Origin diving likely with sin-bins

Sin-bins threaten to play a large role in deciding the State of Origin series with Queensland coach Paul Green admitting it's likely players will attempt to milk penalties.

The NRL's foul-play crackdown has overshadowed the lead up to Wednesday's series opener in Townsville, with 46 players binned and another three sent off in the past month.

Not coincidentally, claims of diving have infiltrated the code at the same time, prompting both Origin sides to speak of a gentleman's agreement to keep it out of the showpiece series.

But Green warned on Tuesday that could prove just lip service and he wouldn't be surprised to see players stay down to seek an edge when the heat was on.

Queensland coach Paul Green is wary of incidental high contact having an overstated impact on State of Origin. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)
Queensland coach Paul Green is wary of incidental high contact having an overstated impact on State of Origin. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

"I don't think anyone likes seeing that, but it's going to happen," Green said.

"There's a lot on the line, players play for an advantage.

"I'm not telling them to do that, the players I don't think want to do that, but in the heat of the battle (they might)."

The NRL has maintained its stance that the foul-play crackdown will not ease for Origin, amid pleas of leniency from Green and consistency from NSW counterpart Brad Fittler.

The Blues have made a point of training with and without numerical advantages in the past week, as they prepare for the likelihood of sin-bins and 10-minute periods that could decide the match.

In the four weeks since the crackdown began at Magic Round, teams have been down a man on their opposition for 468 minutes of football.

In that time, disadvantaged teams have conceded a whopping 254 points and scored just 86.

That difference threatens to be even bigger at Origin level, with the game's best players on the pitch.

With AAP

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