Referee Shayne Hayne has been overlooked for Origin III after players were afforded too much latitude in the ruck area in Game Two. Credit: Grant Trouville. Copyright: NRL Photos
Queensland coach Mal Meninga has called for the different rule interpretations for Origin matches to go the way of cans of full-strength beer at the footy in order to bring some uniformity to refereeing decisions.
As has been the case since the inception of Origin in 1980, players in Game Two were afforded much greater latitude by referees Shayne Hayne and Ben Cummins than they would receive in NRL games which led to a stop-start contest that Meninga described as "fugly".
Hayne has paid the price by losing his position for Game Three, to be replaced by Gerard Sutton who will officiate in his first Origin match alongside Ben Cummins.
Constant niggling tactics in the ruck area from both teams in Game Two was allowed to continue unabated for almost the entirety of the match that was eventually won 6-4 by New South Wales and Meninga for one, is hoping to see a much cleaner and expansive style of football in Game Three at Suncorp Stadium next Wednesday night.
"I'd love to see a bit more football played. How do you describe it? It was fugly wasn't it, Game Two," Meninga said at the naming of his team for Game Three.
"We'd like to see a bit more football but that's up to the interpretations by the referee. The referees need to pull their socks up a little bit and try to clear that ruck area up and speed that ruck area up to allow us to play football.
"We're not offering any excuses I just think the game needs to be refereed like it's refereed at NRL level, the same rules apply. The ruck needs to be cleaned up, the 10 metres needs to be addressed and let both teams play rugby league.
"I don't care who referees the game to be honest with you. They've got a tough job and I don't want to be a referee; do you want to be a referee? I just want them to referee the game as we see every weekend; get good balance in the ruck and get our 10 metres back. That's all we ask."
The on-field performance by the match officials wasn't the only disappointing aspect for Meninga to come out of Game Two in Sydney after revelations that Blues selector Bob Fulton and coach Laurie Daley met with the referees on the Tuesday before the game, a meeting that wasn't afforded to Meninga and his team.
"No I didn't. That's one of my beefs to be honest with you," the Maroons legend said when asked if he'd met with the referees prior to Game Two. "Laurie and Bob Fulton got the privilege of meeting the referees' boss prior to Game Two, I didn't even know anything about it to be honest with you, I only found that out in the papers.
"What's happened in the past is that both coaches have had the opportunity to talk to referees; if I wanted to go and talk to the referee the referees' boss would go and talk to the NSW coach as well. That wasn't afforded to me in the second game and I'm a bit disappointed about that to be honest with you.
"I addressed it with some of the hierarchy after the game but I'm not going to cry over spilt milk. It's dead and gone now but we should have had that courtesy if NSW [got it], so it disappoints me."
The last time Queensland went into a dead rubber on home soil having already lost the Series was in 2003 when they smashed the Blues 36-6 and Meninga insists there is plenty of motivation to perform despite the Series being out of reach.
"It's about our pride. We've built up a fantastic, strong culture the last few years so we want to make sure that every time we put a Maroon jersey on we're at our best," said Meninga, who will coach his 27th Origin match next Wednesday.
"Our focus is going to be totally on us, having pride in that Maroon jersey and putting on a good display in front of our home crowd, that's our major focus. Our prep's got to be spot on and I know the players are in that frame of mind."