Mal-Ricky friendship an Origin casualty - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Mal-Ricky friendship an Origin casualty

Laine Clark 01/07/2011 12:35:09 PM Comments (0)

Mate against mate - it is hardly a new concept in State of Origin.

Ever since Arthur Beetson biffed Mick Cronin in 1980, the mantra has been the foundation which the interstate rugby league series has been built on.

But the old Origin motto has been taken to a whole new level by rival coaches Mal Meninga and Ricky Stuart in 2011.

So much so that Meninga admits his friendship with ex-teammate Stuart has been one of this series' casualties.

"Ricky has got under my skin a bit," the Queensland coach conceded ahead of Wednesday's series decider at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.

"Hopefully we can have a beer afterwards and try and patch this up."

That may take a few shouts, after Meninga was left privately fuming over the NSW coach's approach to Origin III.

No one has ever doubted Stuart's passion for Origin.

And nothing gets in the way of Stuart's unyielding hunger for success.

Not even his bond with Meninga, it seems.

Close friends of Meninga say he's "upset and disappointed" by some of Stuart's pre-match comments and a report in a Sydney newspaper which discredited him as a coach.

Stuart's recent claim that Queensland would resort to the same sort of dirty tricks campaign in the lead up supposedly used to disrupt NSW to help ensure success in Queensland legend Wally Lewis's last game in 1991 clearly riled him.

Probably because Meninga can prove it is untrue.

Lewis had kept his retirement announcement secret until the night of the match - and he only told then team manager Dick Turner before running onto Lang Park.

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

But Meninga was most hurt by the article questioning his coaching ability - an article he privately holds Stuart responsible for due to his links with the newspaper.

It is a remarkable decline in a kinship forged in some of rugby league's mightiest battles.

Who can forget their role in Canberra's classic 1989 grand final win?

Or how they combined a year later in Australia's famous last gasp Test victory over Great Britain at Old Trafford?

Of course Meninga is no angel.

He has gleefully sparked conspiracy theories during his stunning reign as Queensland coach - a run of five straight series wins.

However, it always seemed Meninga said them with a cheeky grin.

He's not smiling now.

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