NSW coach straining friendship for Origin - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

NSW coach straining friendship for Origin

By Wayne Heming 27/06/2011 05:08:08 PM Comments (0)

Ricky Stuart is pushing the friendship boundaries with former Canberra premiership and Australian teammate Mal Meninga, with the gloves off before Darren Lockyer's pressure-packed farewell in Wednesday week's Origin decider.

Close friends of the Centre of the Century say he's "upset and disappointed" by some of Stuart's comments and the efforts of a Sydney newspaper to discredit him as a coach.

Feelings between the rival camps are on knife edge after Queensland forward Dave Taylor was charged by the match video review committee on Monday with a grade two dangerous throw for a lifting tackle on Brisbane's Scott Anderson.

If Taylor can't get the charge downgraded, he'll miss one of the most anticipated Origin games.

The Maroons have already endured one judiciary hearing they felt was a "joke", with Cowboys' half Johnathan Thurston cleared last week of deliberately running into a referee.

Meninga previously warned that the judiciary had set a dangerous precedent when they rated Newcastle winger Akuila Uate's ugly lifting tackle a grade one offence, allowing him to play in Origin II.

"The player (Anderson) was put in a dangerous position, but it was very slippery conditions. He (Taylor) didn't have his hand between his legs and it was just a good hard tackle," said Meninga on the incident last Friday night.

Meninga meanwhile is believed to have been stung by some of the comments and dirty tricks coming out of NSW.

"It's got personal and it's very poor," fired a former Queensland player.

Stuart's claims on Sunday night that Queensland would resort to the same dirty tricks campaign it used to disrupt NSW before Queensland legend Wally Lewis' last game in 1991 didn't go down well with Meninga.

"We'll be disrupted everywhere we go, in regards to grounds, buses, the whole lot," said Stuart, the Blues' halfback at the time.

"It happened to me in 1991. I was a player, the series was one-all, we went to Brisbane and it was Wally Lewis' last game and the whole environment changed."

Unfortunately for Stuart's story, Lewis had kept his retirement announcement secret until the night of the match, only deciding to hang up his boots after learning his young daughter, Jamie-Lee, had been diagnosed as being profoundly deaf.

He only confided his decision to close friend and former team manager Dick Turner before running onto Lang Park.

"There wasn't a week of build up (as Stuart has suggested)," fired Meninga.

"It's just silly. It's a silly comment trying to do what, I'm not sure.

"It's a game of footy, a game of rugby league and we'll be prepared to play to our potential.

"We won't be resorting to any below the belt banter."

Asked if he had anticipated a dirty tricks campaign from a side, desperate to avoid a sixth straight, loss Meninga said: "they've already started.

"If they need that type of arrangement to help unsettle us or to prepare themselves, that's clutching at desperate straws.

Meninga said The Sunday Telegraph's attempts to paint him as merely a figurehead for the Queensland team were in "poor taste", given the success the team had achieved.

"But if that's what they want to do and that's the level they want to stoop to, I'm happy with that," he said.

"I'm above all that. I've been around long enough to understand the reasons behind it."

Queensland selectors are expected to recall Brisbane centre Justin Hodges and name Dane Nielsen 18th man on Tuesday when they announce their 17-man Origin squad.

If Taylor is suspended, Jacob Lillyman, who played in the first game, would most likely move into the side.

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