Gallen unloads on Queensland 'grubs'
Blues captain Paul Gallen has lit the powderkeg for a fiery Origin II clash at the MCG on Wednesday night in a lively press conference where he took aim the grubby tactics of the "so-called angels" of Queensland.
Gallen also labelled stand-in Maroons half Daly Cherry-Evans as "the $10 million man" and as being under the most pressure of anyone on the field and took aim at a "disrespectful" Billy Slater for thinking he could help the Maroons to a series win with a busted shoulder in his last game of the season.
Ahead of the final captain's run on Tuesday – when many of the Blues will be entering the MCG for the first time in their lives – Gallen said the "relaxed" side would use the run to familiarise themselves with the dimensions of the ground, before he lined up Queensland for some special treatment.
"In Game One the [NSW] boys were a little bit naive to think some of the so-called angels of the game don't get up to any [grubby tactics] but I'm sure none of the boys will be taking a backward step this time. They know what's coming and I'm sure Queensland do as well," Gallen said.
"There were some tactics Game One that a few of our boys that were relatively experienced at Origin level probably didn't think were coming and they were and now they know what it's all about.
"When Josh Morris was laying on the ground and Billy [Slater] drops a shoulder in the back of his head, things like that."
Gallen said there was no special treatment in store for the Storm custodian but added it was "disrespectful" for Slater to think he could come into an Origin while in need of season-ending shoulder surgery.
"He's planning on having surgery on Thursday I think. That's a sign of where their team is, they think they're that much better than us, that they're going to get this win and that's going to be the end of the series and Billy's going to go and get surgery and have the rest of the year off," Gallen said.
"I think it's a little bit disrespectful to us but it's easy talking about it and having a go at him, we've got to get out there tomorrow night and get the win to prove we're the better side."
Queensland continue to feel they are superior in the belief NSW only won last year because Cooper Cronk was sidelined, Gallen added.
"They carried on about the Cooper Cronk factor not being there in Game Two [last year]," he said.
"The way they're going out this game with Billy in probably his last game of the season, they probably do think they're better than us and last year we probably didn't deserve the win in their eyes."
Gallen said while there is "genuine hatred" between the teams, the "fear factor" has gone a little bit now that there is a complete ban on punching, but added no-one ever goes out in Origin with the intention of starting a fight.
"We're not out there to fight or anything and we're not out there to play dirty either, we're out there to play hard and tough but there will be no backward steps taken by either side tomorrow night.
"We're not interested in playing dirty, we're not out there to play dirty. We won't be taking a backward step and if those tactics start to creep into the game I'm sure our boys will be up to it as well."
He said Canterbury firebrand David Klemmer would bring passion off the bench but added the 2-metre, 120-kilogram behemoth would be able to keep his cool if someone like Nate Myles looks to bait him into a reaction.
Asked about his comments at last Tuesday's team announcement that he would probably boo Daly Cherry-Evans, Gallen heaped the pressure on the Manly playmaker, who recently backflipped on a four-year deal with the Gold Coast to sign an eight-year, $10 million deal to stay a Sea Eagle for life.
"I've got no reason to boo [Cherry-Evans] but if we're talking about pressure he's probably under the most amount of pressure, the $10 million man, he's in the side by Cooper being out so he's probably got the most amount of pressure as anyone," Gallen said.