Tweet ignites a war of words ahead of series finale
COACH Kevin Walters has watered down fears emotions may boil over in tonight’s State of Origin clash following a war of words and tweets between rival players.
Blues skipper Paul Gallen – who will play his 24th and final Origin game in front of the New South Wales faithful – lit the fuse, as he so often does, by claiming members of the Queensland team, and the entire state of Queens- land, were “arrogant”.
Gallen, though, was referring to the reaction of a number of Queensland players, including retiring lock Corey Parker, who he claimed “mouthed off” on the field after clinching the series in Brisbane last month.
Queensland forward Josh McGuire, who was promoted to starting prop, launched the off-field verbal war by tweeting “losers have meetings, winners have parties lol” after the 26-16 win.
McGuire’s tweet hit a nerve with some of the NSW players.
Walters said he had spoken to McGuire about his tweet, which he deleted.
“We’ve had a little chat and he’s aware of what’s coming his way (tonight),” Walters said.
“But Josh is a big boy. He can handle himself quite well and you can understand the angst his tweet caused New South Wales.
“But this is Origin and it is what brings out the passion in the players.”
Walters preferred to play down Gallen’s Origin upper-cut, describing it as “typical banter” from the Blues skipper.
While he did not have an issue with Gallen speaking his mind, he rejected the claim Queensland’s record-breaking team was “arrogant” in any way.
“I’ve never met a group of players who were more respectful to everyone, to their teammates, to the fans and, more importantly, New South Wales and their supporters,” Walters said.
“I think it is just a bit of banter coming from Paul. It’s State of Origin so you are allowed say a few things.”
However, despite Walters’ effort to play peacemaker, feelings are running high between the two states with NSW having lost 10 of the past 11 series.
Gallen deliberately played the emotion card on the eve of his farewell game in the hope of firing up his big, aggressive forwards to go after Queensland, with Walters tipping a “brutal” opening to the game.
“Paul’s a very passionate New South Wales player and he is entitled to his opinion,” said Walters, who was not involved in a series clean sweep in his 20 Origins as a player.
“You wouldn’t expect anything else but passion coming out of Paul and we will see more of it tonight.
“But we have a guy who is riding off into the sunset as well in Corey Parker, so there’s a few Queensland players who will have a bit to say about that.
“We will be ready for anything New South Wales come up with. It’s going to be a pretty brutal start I would have thought, given the size and the power of the New South Wales pack. They showed that in games one and two and I think they will be all systems go in game three and we have to combat that.”
Walters said it was sad two great warriors, Gallen and Parker, who had engaged in some great battles over the years, would face each other for the last time in Origin.
The Queensland coach said Jack Bird and James Tedesco posed a real threat to Queensland because of their attacking prowess, but warned their lack of Origin experience would also be exploited by Queensland.