Queensland enforcer Nate Myles says his teammates must ignore the niggle in the Origin finale and just focus on beating NSW to avoid a series whitewash.
Cut out the niggle and worry about the footy.
That’s the simple message Nate Myles has for his Queensland teammates going into next week’s State of Origin finale.
Myles believes the Maroons lost their focus in last month’s Game II in Sydney as NSW snatched a 6-4 win and claimed their first series in nine years.
The clash at ANZ Stadium was marred by several incidents where players from both teams came together in a flurry of slaps, shirt-grabbing and forearms.
Johnathan Thurston’s late run-in with NSW five-eighth Josh Reynolds and Myles landing a sneaky punch on NSW forward James Tamou just before halftime were among the many moments during the scrappy affair.
Among it all, Myles thinks the Maroons lost track of what matters most – winning the football match.
“I probably feel we didn’t handle that well. It sort of turned into an AFL-style kerfuffle at stages there,” he said.
“There’s always going to be niggle. I just think, as a team, we can handle it better.
“We’ve just got to focus on the footy and worry about the result rather than who has tickled whose eyes and stuff like that. We just need to focus on the footy.”
The Maroons are out to avoid becoming the first Queensland team to suffer a series whitewash by the Blues for 14 years.
Queensland coach Mal Meninga has already called on referees Ben Cummins and Gerard Sutton to officiate Wednesday’s match as they would a normal NRL match.
Meninga believes if the ruck was cleaned up and consistency applied to the 10m, both teams could enjoy a chance to play more football.
Myles says those comments shouldn’t be construed, however, as if the Maroons think the referees are behind their series loss.
“At no stage do we think the refs are responsible for the outcome of the series, for sure,” Myles said.
“It’s on us and our displays on the field.
“We need to play a bit of a smarter footy brand but we definitely need to execute better. Our errors are way too high to be competing against a great side like New South Wales. That’s something, hopefully, we can rectify.”
And while a victory over NSW next week won’t reduce the hurt suffered from a series loss, Myles says it will at least give the team something to build on going into next year’s campaign.
“I’d rather have that feeling of playing fantastic football and reflecting on the loss that way than being on the arse-end of a 3-0 and still not anywhere near our best footy,” Myles said.