Maroons coach Mal Meninga says he’s sick of the disrespect shown to Nate Myles, who was on the receiving end of Paul Gallen’s punches in Origin I. Photo: Mark Metcalfe
Nate Myles didn’t get much of a chance to defend himself in game one but his coach, Mal Meninga, has come to his aid before game two, lashing out at what he considers to be disrespectful treatment of his gun forward.
Blues captain Paul Gallen was the man throwing the punches before halftime at ANZ Stadium but much of the pre-game build-up to Wednesday’s round two in Brisbane has focused on Myles and how he allegedly uses his head in tackles.
The Blues were reported to have lodged an official complaint with referees boss Daniel Anderson, which highlighted their concerns about the way Myles uses his head in tackles.
And one betting company has even created a cut-out Nate Myles mask, complete with enormous forehead. It may be in jest but Meninga has run out of laughs.
He said Myles had done and said nothing to stir up any trouble since game one and there should be more respect shown for a player who has become Queensland’s forward leader since the retirement of Petero Civoniceva.
“He’s been unfairly picked on over the last so many weeks since game one. I think it’s been a little bit disrespectful what’s happened to him,” Meninga said.
“Some of the things they’re going to hold up with the big foreheads, I think that’s disrespectful to be honest with you. He’s a great bloke and a great player and a great Queenslander.
“He’ll play to the best of his ability tomorrow night. He hasn’t said anything.”
Meninga was referring to a cut-out mask from Sportsbet, who say the Dread the Head campaign was to support Myles, not mock him.
Myles has hardly fanned the flames after he wore the volley of punches from Gallen. After the 14-6 defeat, he even went as far as saying Gallen shouldn’t even be charged.
The ensuing storm after the one-sided dust-up has ensured anyone who resorts to fisticuffs in game two will find themselves in the sin bin. That is fine with Meninga, who said his squad hadn’t even mentioned Gallen or potential square-ups this week.
“We don’t talk about it. We never talk about it. It’s media hype. That happened in game one,” Meninga said.
“We’re going to be aggressive. It’s a combative sport. We want to win that contest. From our point of view, it’s not about going the biff.”
There will be two new faces in the Queensland side on Wednesday night in Josh Papalii and Daly Cherry-Evans. Meninga said both had added a spark to the group and wouldn’t be overwhelmed by the task in front of a sold-out home crowd.
“They’re great young kids. They’ve enjoyed the week. They get a chance to run out there and they’ll play really well for Queensland, I can guarantee you that,” Meninga said.
“They’ve fitted in really well. They’ve added some enthusiasm to our make-up.”
Papalii can start slowly in games and Meninga will surely be tempted to give him some early game time in the middle of the park to whet the appetite. But he ruled out throwing him straight into the starting side.
“We’re not playing any secretive games. Our starting team deserves to be starting and that’s how it’s going to be,” Meninga said.
Blues coach Laurie Daley and Meninga have had differences over offside rulings and whether markers have been square but that’s white noise come game day. Meninga said he simply hoped for a fair go for both sides and the referees played no part in the outcome.
The Queenslanders haven’t left much to chance over the years but things weren’t going well for New South Wales on Origin eve. Their team bus got stuck on a roundabout leaving Suncorp Stadium after training and the team had to take a fleet of cabs back to the hotel.
Meninga, smiling no doubt, saw it all unfold from a Queensland Former Origin Greats lunch.
“That’s a good sign isn’t it? A bit of an omen hopefully,” he said.
Brisbane Times – 26 June 2013