Maroons want ref leniency for Origin opener

Cam Smith, Queensland
Cam Smith, Queensland

 

Queensland assistant coach Michael Hagan has urged referees Shayne Hayne and Ashley Klein to show some leniency in the opening exchanges of tonight’s first State of Origin rugby league clash in Sydney.

Hagan said that while the shoulder charge was outlawed this season, Origin was so physical and aggressive that players should be able to push the boundaries slightly.

”I don’t know where those shoulder chargers are going to sit in tonight’s game,” Hagan said.

”There’s been a few in recent years. It would be a shame to see penalties issued when it’s just a really physical start.

”They might show a little bit of leniency either way but it’s a difficult one to know how they are going to rule on it.”

Past Origin games have been played under different rule interpretations to NRL matches, with players able to get away with offences that would normally be penalised.

Hagan said the Queensland team were set to run out as selected, with five-eighth Johnathan Thurston (virus) and winger Darius Boyd (bruised ankle) both expected to play as the Maroons begin their quest for an eighth consecutive series win.

He said the Maroons had focused on making sure they started the game strongly and controlled their errors, particularly as they face two away games in the best-of-three game series.

”We came down a bit earlier than normal on Sunday so we’re not rushed and players can really get their heads around that start that we need to be a lot better at.

”Our performances in Sydney the last few years haven’t been as good as they needed to be.

”It’s individual responsibility across the team and buying into what the team values need to be tonight and work hard for each other.

”They do that traditionally, but we know we can’t get left in  the blocks.”