NSW are ready for punching to make a comeback in State of Origin III, with players less worried about consequences.
NSW anticipate a fight night against Queensland in State of Origin III, with prop James Tamou revealing the Blues have discussed the prospect of punches being thrown.
Aside from a sneaky jab by Queenslander Nate Myles in game two, no punches were thrown despite the entire 80 minutes being marred by niggling tactics.
Players and coaches were frustrated that the referees couldn’t stamp out the nasty behaviour, and the NRL’s strict anti-punching regulations meant that pent-up aggression had no way of releasing itself.
But with NSW already series champions, players appear ready to break ranks at Suncorp Stadium should tensions boil over.
An automatic 10 minutes in the sin-bin awaits anyone who throws a punch, but in a dead-rubber it might be a price fired-up players are willing to pay.
“I can see it, big time,” Tamou told AAP.
“We’ve spoken about it.
“Game three might explode and we just spoke about how our frustrations were getting really close to the point where we really wanted to push back with a punch (in game two). If it happens, it happens. But if it doesn’t, our game plan will be strictly dominating them on the footy field.”
However, while taking matters into their own hands might be on their mind, Tamou says the Blues’ focus is to complete the first NSW clean sweep since 2000 and the first time since 1996 a Blues team has won two games in Brisbane.
An eight-year drought has been put to bed, and now the Blues want to rub it in and reinforce that the Origin landscape has changed forever.
“Our attitude will be to change the tides of things because they’ve dominated for so long,” Tamou said.
NSW coach Laurie Daley says if there were such thing as a State of Origin dead rubber, Cooper Cronk and Josh Morris wouldn’t be pushing their bodies so hard to come back from serious injury for their respective states.
Daley admitted he was surprised Cronk was included in the Queensland side after the halfback fractured his arm in Origin I.
However, he said the Blues – who have made three forced changes from the side that clinched the series in Sydney – have their own medical miracle to inspire them in Morris.
The Canterbury centre will also play in next Wednesday’s match without an NRL game under his belt since damaging his knee in the Origin opener in May and has been described by Daley as an inspiration for all future NSW players.
“He’s enormous for us. He’s a real leader in our team,” Daley said.
NSW: Jarryd Hayne, James McManus, Josh Dugan, Josh Morris, Daniel Tupou, Josh Reynolds, Trent Hodkinson, Paul Gallen (capt), Robbie Farah, Aaron Woods, Beau Scott, Ryan Hoffman, Greg Bird. Interchange: Trent Merrin, Boyd Cordner, James Tamou, Luke Lewis.