Ben Horne and Laine Clark
Fiery NSW playmaker Josh Reynolds went out of his way to ensure there was no bad blood between he and Johnathan Thurston, but the Queensland star says it was he who needed to apologise.
Thurston says he regretted his ugly brain snap on Wednesday night, which sent him after his opposite number in an embittered postscript to the end of the Maroons' State of Origin reign.
"That's not in my game at all. I apologised to him after the game for my actions ... I am better than that," Thurston said.
Blues players were surprised at Thurston's uncharacteristic aggression, with his North Queensland teammate James Tamou claiming he'd never seen his club captain react like that on a football field.
Thurston jammed a forearm into Reynolds' face on the ground and then, as players from both sides came together, the pair clashed heads and exchanged heated words in an incident that was put on report but cleared by the match review panel.
Reynolds barked "you headbutted me" at Thurston as the referees tried to take control.
But post-game, Reynolds said he'd gone straight to Thurston to make sure the Queensland ace knew how much respect he had for him.
"I don't want any bad blood. When we're on the field it's different but I went and shook his hand after the game straight away so that's how it's," Reynolds told AAP.
"I'm sure he'll know it was a thing in the heat of the battle and I told him I very much look up to him as a player and I have that much respect for him. He knows that."
NSW forward Greg Bird said seeing Thurston and the other Maroons so agitated as the clock wound down on their dynasty was a satisfying moment.
"We've been doing exactly the same thing to them over the last couple of years," he said.
"To see them do it to us was a bit of a cherry on the cake at the end. To see the frustration that finally, finally we've been able to instil in them."