Tamou: We got under their skin
Blues enforcer James Tamou says it was a specific plan to rattle the Maroons and put them off their game and predicts there will be "shots fired early" in the Suncorp decider in three weeks time.
One of the big talking points in the build-up to Origin II was whether Queensland's niggling tactics helped down the Blues and Tamou was vocal early on about the need to take it up to the Maroons in that department.
The 194 centimetre behemoth took it upon himself to put his money where his mouth was, shoving Queensland fullback Billy Slater in the face early on and causing players to run in from everywhere and has vowed to do the same again if needed in Game Three.
"The ref called something back, he kept running, I thought 'I'll try and get him here, try and get in early, try and get under his skin, hopefully try and get him off his game,'" Tamou said of the incident.
"I think later on in the game – we took him out of the game, he was obviously injured there, we did a good job on him, he was their difference in Game One.
"It's what you're willing to do for the team and I'm willing to do my part. If that's doing all the niggly stuff, I'm willing to do that. Billy's their main player. He's their go to, that's why he's the best in the world. If we can do a job on him we can just about shut them all down."
Despite how it played out Tamou said matching Queensland's niggle hadn't been the main focus.
"We were just fighting fire with fire – I think that intent was deserving," he said.
"Taking that ingredient going into Game Three, I think they were a bit shocked by it, that we didn't take a step back. Taking that into Game Three could be the difference."
Tamou predicted "shots will be fired early" in the Suncorp decider.
"Someone will say something, it'll be on. You saw it tonight, how frustrated they were and how under the skin we got them. I think us doing that early in the game put them off their game," he said.
With the current no-punching edict Tamou admitted players had to be careful not to overstep the line and praised the cool heads of Trent Hodkinson and Ryan Hoffman for reining the players in when things got heated.
"I think it's just unreal how everyone just stayed together and wanted to stick up for each other and did their part," he said.
"We have a lot of players that really can lose their head and just having that balance where we have calm players to say keep a clear head, keep your mind on the job.
"Tonight with everything that happened I think we got under their skin. They were really close to throwing a punch there. I don't think they wanted to throw a punch and get sent off, so I think we really did a good job there."
It was also a clear plan of the Blues to rattle key Queensland playmaker Johnathan Thurston – who just also happens to be Tamou's clubmate at the Cowboys. But with Thurston taking a little longer to get up after each monstrous shot to the ribs, Tamou said he couldn't afford to be out there worrying about whether Thurston would be able to back up on the weekend.
"In that 80 minutes I'm all for the Blues there, if something happens to him – it's hard to say. I don't want to come off tomorrow going into back into Cowboys and think 'we've lost him, something's happened', but in that 80 minutes – let's just say I'm going after him as well. And he's doing the same thing," Tamou said.
He also praised the tenacity of one of the game's toughest players.
"[Thurston] has been doing a lot of work on his defence with Dave Furner up there and it really showed tonight. He's been doing it all year for the Cowboys and that's just a credit to him.
"It just shows why he's the best at what he does, he's a competitor. When I shook his hand after the game he was devastated for his team and that just goes to show what a team player he is."