Queensland coach Mal Meninga has cut a bemused figure as he tries to make sense of the south of the border Origin I fallout.
Suddenly the underdog tag does not sit so well with Queensland ahead of next week’s must-win State of Origin game two clash in Sydney.
And don’t call them whingers.
The stage was set for Maroons coach Mal Meninga to play their traditional dark-horse card after injury ensured forwards Corey Parker and Josh Papalii were cut from his extended game two squad.
And he appeared to have every right to blow up after late tackles ensured Billy Slater (shoulder) and Daly Cherry-Evans (knee) were in severe doubt along with fellow strike weapon Greg Inglis (ankle) for the match.
But Meninga cut a bemused figure as he tried to make sense of the post-game one fallout from south of the border.
Asked if they would be embracing underdog status again, Meninga said: “That’s a furphy really.
“Over the years we have had some great Queensland teams and for some reason we have been underdogs. That’s NSW (saying that), not us.”
Meninga said the side always believed there was a chance of success, and didn’t talk about the underdog status.
“We talk about preparation being spot on, a good attitude, being emotionally engaged in a game and playing to our potential.”
Meninga could not help but chuckle when reflecting on former NSW rake Ben Elias dubbing Queensland Rugby League “the greatest whingers in Australian sport”.
Elias was clearly unimpressed when roundly booed as a game one guest at Queensland’s spiritual home Suncorp Stadium.
He also took exception to the QRL blowing up over NSW pivot Josh Reynolds being cleared of a dangerous throw on Queensland stalwart Brent Tate, who claimed he had “never been so frightened” in light of Newcastle forward Alex McKinnon’s broken neck.
“They call us whingers and seriously I haven’t made a comment about anything,” Meninga laughed.
Told NSW coach Laurie Daley had been complaining about the game one officiating, Meninga said: “Yeah. But I thought both sides handled poor (refereeing) decisions – if they want to call them that – really well.
“That’s what footy is about. It’s not about complaining about the decision – it is what you do next when it goes against you.”
Recovering Maroons fullback Slater also had his chance to gripe when NSW utility Beau Scott’s late game one hit that damaged his shoulder was brought up at their Gold Coast camp.
“I am not going to stand here and whinge about it,” he said.
“We cop our fair share but we also give our fair share as well.”