Despite the 50-6 scoreline, the opening match of the State of Origin series gave most people what they wanted with both sides playing out the game 13-on-13.
But Fox League’s NRL 360 host Paul Kent has unloaded on the NRL after referee Gerard Sutton put his whistle away despite strong talk from the administrators about keeping the crackdown going.
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Last week, NRL head of football Graham Annesley said Origin would continue to punish illegal contact on the field, a crackdown that had kicked off at Magic Round and been controversial with fans.
Record numbers of sin bins and send offs have left some fans frustrated as the NRL looks towards player welfare and cutting out hits to the head.
“Nothing is changing for the State of Origin. The State of Origin is in many ways our showcase event of the year,” Annesley said.
“No one would like to see the Origin series go through without any incidents more than me, so players have still got a little bit more time to adjust.
“We’ve got a responsibility to our players in what is the most physical, the fastest, the most intense level of our game that can be played.”
Kyle Feldt and Cameron Munster were two of the men who were placed on report.Source:News Corp Australia
The comments were backed up by ARL Commission chairman Peter V’landys ahead of the match, sparking fears that the unintended consequence of players milking penalties would bleed into Origin.
As a NSW supporter, Fox Sports presenter Lara Pitt said she didn’t feel like the crackdown had invaded the game but wasn’t sure if the Queensland fans would agree.
The penalty count was 4-all and the set restarts were 5-1 to Queensland.
Fox Sports rugby league reporter James Hooper added: “The crisis merchants that had the whistle blowers ruining the spectacle clearly had an impact because it went the other way. They had to have been directed.”
Likely because of a blowout scoreline, milking didn’t eventuate, but Kent unloaded on the NRL over failing to stand up to the pressure, pointing particularly to a moment in the 50th minute, labelling the NRL “a gutless organisation”.
While Queensland’s Moeaki Fotuaika was banned for a match for hitting Latrell Mitchell late and in the back, Kyle Feldt was handed a fine for an incident that had been sin binned in the past few weeks.
As NSW opened up a 26-6 lead early in the second half, Blues forward Cameron Murray was involved in a catch and pass play to get the ball out wide when he was seemingly hit in the head by Feldt.
Murray was left groggy on the ground as he struggled to get to his feet.
Cam Murray was left dazed by the shot.Source:FOX SPORTS
“Kyle Feldt hit Cameron Murray and should have been whacked straight off the field,” Kent said. “In club football, three weeks ago, he was being sent off. For all this rubbish they carry on with that we need to be consistent, that is a shoulder into the face.
“And then they double down on how gutless they were, they charged him with a grade one dangerous contact which showed they got it down near the lower end. It’s a complete lie and a complete misrepresentation of what they’re about.”
Ben Ikin added: “it should have been 10 minutes in the sin bin”, to which Kent replied “at the very least”.
Pitt added that “If they called it a grade two then they’re not on the same page”.
“Lara, we heard all the tough talk about it before the game and, as I said, it was gutless and it just showed they’re not there,” Kent continued.
“It’s all PR and spin and they’re weakening already. They want to change the game and they allow that to be a grade one dangerous contact, which ends in a fine. I mean seriously.”
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