Call to scrap games in lead-up to Origin
Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan and his South Sydney rival Michael Maguire have called for Monday Night Football to be scrapped on the weekends when State of Origin teams are picked or for NSW and Queensland to delay naming their line-ups until the club round is complete.
Flanagan said after last night's boilover 14-12 victory over the Rabbitohs at Sharks Stadium he was upset that new Blues interchange forward Andrew Fifita had been drafted into the NSW camp on the day of a vitally important club game.
While Fifita was the star for the Sharks in the absence of injured representative stars Paul Gallen, Luke Lewis and Michael Gordon, his coach was concerned the distraction would prove too much.
"Either don't have Monday Night Football in weeks like this or pick the teams on Tuesday – simple," Flanagan told NRL.com.
"For Andrew it was very hard but even the pressure that Gal was feeling... Gal wants to play and he's got this Origin thing hanging over him, captaining NSW.
"Gal's always known he's going to be in the team. He's a bit more experienced but the pressure on Andrew, not from anyone but the pressure of being selected and still having another game...
"It's enormous pressure for players."
Maguire opted to keep the Queensland selection of Ben Te'o and Chris McQueen from them before last night's clash to minimise the distraction.
"You can tell players beforehand or after," Maguire said. "At the end of the day, we've got a team that's very focused on what we were trying to achieve. Unfortunately, as a group, we didn't do that."
Told of Flanagan's comments, McGuire said: "I'm with Flanno (because of) all the distractions for players – who's in, who's out. Obviously there was Gallen and Lewis missing tonight after their selections.
"But full credit to Cronulla. They turned up without those players and performed very well."
Speaking on Triple M, Flanagan said the 23-year-old Fifita thought he was doing the right thing by joining Laurie Daley's Blues in camp on Monday.
"I was really concerned about the leaking of the (NSW) team," said Flanagan. "We had three days with us playing on a Monday night.
"(Fifita) actually went into Origin camp today, which I was really disappointed in. I can understand the excitement and everything but I was disappointed he went in there today.
"(He could have) started tonight.
"It was a little bit of miscommunication on our part. It wasn't the NSWRL's fault. Gal rang him up and said 'what are you doing? Do you want to come in for an hour?' Doing the right thing, he thought... he went in there for an hour.
"In the end, it didn't affect him. We won the two competition points. But I don't think it was the right thing to do.
"From my perspective, I don't think Greg Inglis was at his best tonight. Whether that was playing on his mind or some of the other Souths boys, I don't know. It is tough to play, knowing you're going into Origin camp.
"It's a big game and you'd hate to miss it. It would be tough playing on a Monday night, knowing all your mates are in camp and they're waiting for you."
Brisbane plays Wests Tigers in Monday Night Football in the week the teams for Origin II are picked, while Manly meets Parramatta nine days before Origin III.
BEST OF ROUND 11: The carnival atmosphere and good crowd in idylic conditions at Glen Willow Sporting Complex in Mudgee on Sunday.
WORST OF ROUND 11: The performance of the Eels in said game, gifting Gold Coast their biggest ever win and disappointing the members of the Blue And Gold Army who marched over the Great Dividing Range.
CLEVEREST OF ROUND 11: Giant Canberra winger Edrick Lee is starting to realise how tall he is. Lee's two tries on Saturday night put witnesses in mind of a basketball forward waiting patiently under the hoop for someone to throw them the ball.
QUOTE OF ROUND 11: "I'd back us in a dogfight against anyone" – Cronulla's Wade Graham.
WHAT I SAW: Jamal Idris brandishing the word "Revenge" on wrist strapping. It's a reference to the critics who labelled him fat and lazy last year.