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Did Sticky and Mal save Origin?

Leila McKinnon NRL.com Tue, Jul 03, 2012 - 1:00 PM

Mal Meninga and Ricky Stuart have ensured State of Origin gets plenty of inch space in the paper, in their own unique way. Copyright: Andrew Bryan

They used to be so perfect together, two great talents at the top of their game who faced the world as a team.

One of them is tall and dark, the other smaller, intense, and with a tendency to unpredictable outbursts of anger. Their now difficult relationship fascinates and sells newspapers.

I could be talking about Tom and Katie but I am actually referring to two much more engaging characters with a bigger stink on their hands than a simple Hollywood divorce.

Mal and Ricky are the real story here. The anonymous whispers of lawyers and spin merchants are not the way they feud. They attack Origin style, head-on and hard.

Thank heaven for these two mad coaches of Origin football. They are men who embody what these three annual games are all about - passion, rivalry, and aggression - emotions that they take to crazy extremes.

It makes them both irresistible targets of the media who risk bans, sprays, and sulks to keep the column inches coming.

I’ve given up working out who’s banned the media and who hasn’t. Those microphone warriors looking for a little player chat to pump up the game on the nightly news must wonder from day to day exactly where they stand. Henry VIII’s wives had more stable relationships.

So let’s rate Mal and Sticky’s capacity to hate and hunger to win.

Ricky has made his feelings about the Maroons dominance in the past six series very clear, reaching for the most descriptive terms:

"I hate it," he said.  "I can't describe to you how much I hate it. Are you allowed to print 'f---'?

"Well, I f---ing hate it."

He called the Queenslanders smug and arrogant and in the process, helped fire up the Blues to a game two win.

"Queensland are the authority on all things Origin. It all starts and ends with them. Right?

"To be honest, I've had a gutful of Queensland's smugness and their fake graciousness in victory."

It was the best spray we’d seen since Mal’s post-2011 series attack on the faceless men of influence, or as he also put it the "very rats and filth that tried to poison a monumental team with lies, personal attacks, arrogance and disrespect".

If only Mal Meninga’s political career had lasted more than 28 seconds, what a breath of fresh air he would have been in the corridors of parliament house.

We all want to see heavy hits, miracle tries, and desperate saves tomorrow night. But who isn’t also looking forward to Ricky’s sideline antics? Whether it’s swearing and stomping or jubilant fist pumping and ab thumping. And who of us doesn’t want to hear Mal’s descriptive summing up of the Blues conspiracy – whether he wins or loses?

Keep Wayne Bennett’s grunts and mumbles and Des Hasler’s inscrutable glares. The Olympics can spread the joys of peace, unity and friendship, but until that torch is lit I think Cockies and Toads alike are happy for Ricky and Mal to keep pumping paranoia, hatred, and outrage into the already tense atmosphere.

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