De Belin reveals Fittler warned Blues to ignore Maroons' niggling tactics
NSW players watched video footage of niggling tactics by Queensland players in past State of Origin matches and were told not to react as they prepared for last Wednesday night's series-opening 22-12 win at the MCG.
St George Illawarra forward Jack De Belin revealed the Blues team, which included 11 Origin rookies, had been warned to expect Maroons lock Josh McGuire and centre Will Chambers to try and get in their heads.
Chambers had a running battle with NSW centre Latrell Mitchell and was later suspended for a knee lift which left Blues hooker Damien Cook with a sternum injury.
"We knew what to expect, we had obviously seen a lot of clips in the years gone by of guys like Nate Myles and Josh McGuire," De Belin said in the lead-up to the Dragons' match against Manly on Saturday at WIN Stadium.
"Their role in the team is to put players off their game and ruffle a few feathers. It was spoken about, the boys knew not to lose their heads, and to keep their cool and get on with the process."
De Belin was watching from the interchange bench when Cook came reeling out of an attempted tackle on Chambers in the 59th minute.
The incident was not penalised but was picked up by the match review committee who had previously issued Chambers with a concerning act notice over his running style.
"It looked like he had broken his sternum," De Belin said of Cook. "He did well to get his groove back and continue with the game but he was in a lot of pain."
The Blues only conceded one penalty all match and De Belin said NSW coach Brad Fittler had told them to remain disciplined no matter what tactics Queensland employed.
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"That is what a lot of their game is built on, testing the waters there and they try to ruffle a few feathers," de Belin said. "That's to be expected and it is just the way you handle it.
"It wasn't like a massive point, it was just briefly mentioned but Freddy picked players who are going to keep cool heads and get on with the job and that is what happened."
Mitchell, who scored a try and was disallowed another late in the match, was specifically told not to react to any niggling and sledging by Chambers.
"That's Will Chambers to a tee," De Belin said. "He is a good niggler and he has always got a lot to say but Latrell kept his cool and he did a great job.
"He obviously didn't let him get under his skin and he is pretty talented so I think Will Chambers had his hands full."
With the Maroons needing to win Origin II to keep the Holden State of Origin series alive, De Belin was expecting a more torrid clash at ANZ Stadium on June 24.
"Queensland are going to have a lot of fight, the series is on the line so they are going to be extra hungry," he said.
"I don't know if they are going to pick new heads but the players that didn't perform up to standards are obviously going to have a point to prove and whenever they have been doubted before they always come back with a bang."
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