The Courier-Mail

Maroons legend reckons Blues coach is jumping at shadows LIGHTEN UP, LOZ


MAROONS great Chris Close has slammed Blues officials for trying to tear apart the fabric of State of Origin.

Coach Laurie Daley has requested a meeting with referees boss Tony Archer to complain about Queensland’s alleged heavy handed tactics in Game One, a meeting Close described as ridiculous.

“If you can’t stand the heat then get out of the kitchen,” Close told The Courier-Mail.

Blues officials are furious with Queensland’s tactics in Origin I, oblivious to the fact Billy Slater’s nagging shoulder injury is the result of a Beau Scott cheap shot in last year’s series.

Close, man of the match in 1980’s Origin I, argued that ferocious tactics from both teams made Origin such a compelling contest during its 35-year history.

Blues coach Daley wants to meet with Archer before selecting his Origin II team to argue Queensland should have been penalised more often in Game One.

Daley believes his team was ambushed by the Maroons and will argue they played to a different set of rules.

NSW officials have highlighte­d five incidents they believe show Queensland players illegally hitting Blues players.

Close said Origin had become the country’s most watched sporting event because of how passionate and hard the game was.

“Please … this is State of Origin. This is bloody rugby league,” Close said.

“Mal Meninga nearly killed Michael O’Connor (1991, Game Three). They need to get their hands off it.”

Close said he actually respected Blues bully Beau Scott because he gave his all for his state.

“Beau is out there doing his best for his state and good on him. That’s what it is about,” he said.

Close also slammed the idea of allowing Kiwis who have a history in either NSW or Queensland to play Origin and represent New Zealand at the same time.

Origin eligibilit­y is being revisited at year’s end and there could be allowances made for players who want to play Origin and represent tier two nations such as Samoa.

There are some stakeholde­rs who want to see Kiwis raised in Australia allowed to play Origin, opening up the concept to Kieran Foran, Benji Marshall and Jason Taumalolo among others.

“That’s what Test football is for,” Close said. “Why would you change it? The only people who get it are NSW and Queensland people. No one else will ever get it.

“It is like two towns in a small area having a lifetime rivalry.

“It is state against state, mate against mate.

“We shouldn’t change it.”

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