It took barely a minute into FOX Sports’ pregame show before Braith Anasta let fly at a "desperate" strategy used by Queensland coach Paul Green in the leadup to Origin I.
With Victoria's latest Covid-19 outbreak putting paid to Melbourne's plan to host part one of the 2021 series, the NRL has been forced to make a last-minute shift north to Townsville.
In what has been yet another sporting contest shaken up by the pandemic, Queensland will now host the first two games of the series, with Game II scheduled for the 27th at Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium.
Former Blues hooker Michael Ennis said he was feeling "a bit ordinary" to be watching his former side take the field in the footy-mad Queensland city.
"I love going to Townsville, the people love their rugby league up there. But to get two games back-to-back, it's not the ideal start for NSW on the back of a series loss last year," Ennis told Queensland great Ben Ikin.
Anasta scooped up the pass from Ennis and immediately let fly, saying it was "weak as p*ss" for Green to suggest the Maroons were the underdogs going into game one.
"With Dane Gagai being sick through the week and Paul Green pressing that at the press conference this week … he's so desperate to be the underdog," he said. "I thought it was weak as p*ss, to be honest with you. The desperation, you know? Queensland should be favourites, they've got two home games, we know how big the advantage is.
"They won last year's series, and they have the same team, nearly the identical team to last year. It's his first Origin as coach and all Paul Green was worried about is being the underdog. Focus on the game, mate."
Ikin hit back, turning to the bookmakers' odds putting NSW as strong favourites for the series opener.
"But we're always favourites," Anasta hit back.
Braith Anasta pulled no punches with the new Queensland coach after a week of intense build-up.Source:NewsComAu
GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA – JUNE 03: Coach Paul Green looks on during a Queensland Maroons State of Origin training session at Cbus Super Stadium on June 03, 2021 in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)Source:NewsComAu
Anasta's spray came shortly after Origin icon Mal Meninga suggested Blues playmaker Jarome Luai should not be eligible to play as tensions between the two sides hit fever pitch.
The Maroons legend said Luai should not meet the State of Origin selection criteria because of his public declarations that he will snub the chance to play international football for Australia and will instead play with Samoa.
Meninga says only Australian players should be eligible to play in State of Origin. “My preference is that if you make yourself available for NSW and Queensland that first and foremost you are available for the Kangaroos,” Meninga told The Daily Telegraph.
“You might describe that as selfish but I want to keep the fabric of Origin clean.
“I’m a huge fan of the international game and I don’t begrudge players wanting to play for their ancestors and their country.”
Kick-off is at 8.10 AEST. Follow all the play-by-play updates in our live blog.
NSW Blues: 1. James Tedesco 2. Brian To’o 3. Latrell Mitchell 4. Tom Trbojevic 5. Josh Addo-Carr 6. Jarome Luai 7. Nathan Cleary 8. Daniel Saifiti 9. Damien Cook 10. Jake Trbojevic 11. Cameron Murray 12. Tariq Sims 13. Isaah Yeo 14. Jack Wighton 15. Junior Paulo 16. Payne Haas 17. Liam Martin 18. Api Koroisau 19. Campbell Graham
Coach: Brad Fittler
QLD Maroons: 1. Valentine Holmes 2. Xavier Coates 3. Kurt Capewell 4. Dane Gagai 5. Kyle Feldt 6. Cameron Munster 7. Daly Cherry-Evans 8. Christian Welch 9. Harry Grant 10. Tino Fa’asuamaleaui 11. Felise Kaufusi 12. David Fifita 13. Jai Arrow 14. AJ Brimson 15. Jaydn Su’A 16. Moeaki Fotuaika 17. Joe Ofahengaue 18. Coen Hess 19. Ben Hunt
Coach: Paul Green
Source: Read Full Article