Tonga plays down Origin bravery talk - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Tonga plays down Origin bravery talk

Wayne Heming 26/05/2011 03:57:20 PM Comments (0)

North Queensland centre Willie Tonga has played down talk of his bravery after playing 63 minutes of Wednesday night's State of Origin opening clash with a busted shoulder, saying his teammates were the real heroes.

Coach Mal Meninga, who played 32 Origins, including some where Queensland were devastated by injuries, hailed Tonga's heroics as one of the bravest performances in the annals of the interstate matches.

However Tonga told AAP on Thursday, before having scans on his injured left shoulder, that he hadn't done anything any of his 16 teammates would not have done.

"I'm not brave. I don't doubt that any of those players in that (dressing room) would have even considered not going back out," he said.

"It's State of Origin and deserting your mates is the last thing you think of."

Experienced Queensland team doctor Roy Saunders told Tonga his season could be over if he kept playing and copped a bad knock on his shoulder.

"If I'm out for the season, that would be devastating news," said Tonga who battled the pain and lack of power in his shoulder to make 11 tackles and 66 metres.

"I thought about what the doc had said.

"But this is State of Origin. I was playing for Queensland so I was willing to take that risk."

Tonga suffered the injury 17 minutes into the clash following a heavy collision contesting a bomb with NSW fullback Josh Dugan.

He said the real heroes were winger Darius Boyd and halfback Johnathan Thurston, who covered for him defensively knowing his left shoulder was banged up.

"He (Darius) knew I was suffering a bit and marking up against Gaz (Mark Gasnier), he was always going to try and skip on my outside and I had no strength in that shoulder.

"Darius read it well and came in and cut that off very quickly."

Tonga admitted it would have been easy for Queensland to panic after quick tries to Mitchell Pearce and Michael Jennings saw their 10-0 lead turn into 12-10 deficit with 10 minutes remaining.

But he said Darren Lockyer's calming influence settled the players down and his reassuring words had proved crucial.

"He was just so calming behind the posts. You could feel his words and experience spreading through the players," said Tonga.

"It's easy to get a bit worried when you get behind with not much time on the clock. It's easy to start thinking panic stations.

"But when you've got Lockyer, JT (Johnathan Thurston), Billy (Slater), Cameron (Smith) - the likes of those players guiding you on the field - there's really nothing for us to worry about."

The Cowboys don't expect to know Tonga's scan results until Friday, but have named him in their side to play the Sydney Roosters on Saturday along with Thurston and Matt Scott, who was Queensland's best in their 16-12 win.

Brought to you by AAP AAP © 2023 AAP

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