Jarome Luai admits New South Wales were ‘p****d off’ by Queensland enforcers landing haymakers on Matt Burton and putting him in headlock during huge brawl in Origin decider… and Blues stars vow they won’t be bullied this year
New South Wales have vowed they won’t be bullied in the State of Origin opener on Wednesday after Jarome Luai admitted the Blues were left red-faced by the treatment Queensland dished out in the decider last year.
Matt Burton was clobbered by Dane Gagai and then put in a headlock by Tino Fa’asuamaleaui as tempers flared during the decider at Suncorp Stadium in July.
The New South Wales playmaker was surrounded by Maroons jersey, an unusual sight in Origin and one which has annoyed the Blues ever since.
‘There weren’t many blue jerseys there,’ Luai told News Corp.
‘It was a tough one because it was situational. But it did p**s us off.
An all-in brawl broke out as Matt Burton and Dane Gagai traded blows in the second half of the State of Origin decider at Suncorp Stadium last year
Burton (middle) was clobbered by Gagai and put in a headlock by Tino Fa’asuamaleaui (left)
The trio traded blows away from the action as tempers flared in Origin III last year
‘No one wants to let that happen in any game. One of our brothers out there in that situation, we want to be there to support them.’
The incident happened away from the ball, with Burton running straight into the back of Kalyn Ponga as the Blues scrambled to avoid a try
Gagai and Fa’asuamaleaui decided to dish out some retribution, with the former and Burton throwing haymakers but only the Queenslander landing some blows.
The pair – who will both miss Origin I in Adelaide on Wednesday – were subsequently sin-binned by referee Ashley Klein.
Luai feels the circumstances around the fracas made it difficult for New South Wales player to rush to Burton’s support, as they were preoccupied with preventing Queensland from scoring.
‘It is a tough one because you are trying to stop the play and the ref is continuing the play,’ Luai added.
‘It is a tough one to juggle because that is your brother our there getting swamped. Nothing is more important than our brothers and our brother’s safety.’
In the aftermath of Queensland’s 22-12 win, the Blues were criticised for failing to stand up to the Maroons’ physical challenge.
Burton was sin-binned for his role in the fracas, despite failing to land any punches
Gagai (right) was also sent from the field for 10 minutes after throwing haymakers
Last week, New South Wales coach Brad Fittler turned to legendary Blues enforcer Les Boyd to ignite the fire under his team ahead of the State of Origin opener next week.
And New South Wales prop Junior Paulo said the criticism the team copped last year was all the motivation he and his teammates needed ahead of Origin I on Wednesday night.
‘There was criticism about us being bashed up last year,’ he said.
‘We are using that as motivation. You think about it. […] You wipe the plate clean.
‘There is only one way and that is to respond with a good performance.’
Jarome Luai has admitted the treatment of Matt Burton left the Blues embarrassed
Junior Paulo has vowed the Blues will not be bullied in Origin I on Wednesday night
Meanwhile, Queensland prop Tom Flegler has warned Queensland will fight fire with fire as he insisted there was still a place for rough and tumble rugby league in State of Origin.
‘It’s slowly fading out of the NRL,’ the Brisbane middle forward told AAP of the physical football Billy Slater wants from him against NSW in the series opener.
‘Everyone’s got their own opinion on it. […] There are still a few players that like to play like that and it’s nice to know there is still an arena for that type of footy.’
The Maroons star has promised ‘fireworks’ and said ‘anything could happen’ in his duel with Tevita Pangai Junior, who has a reputation for being combustible and who will make his Origin debut on Wednesday.