Origin coach breaks silence on bizarre act

Maroons coach Paul Green has explained why he stormed out of his press conference in the wake of Jai Arrow’s Covid-19 breach last week.

Green fronted the media on Friday morning to address Arrow’s decision to invite an unauthorised female guest into Origin camp.

The former Cowboys supremo issued a brief statement before leaving the scene, ignoring a question from a journalist and forcing senior players to field questions about the breach.

“I was advised on the way to training not to make comment, as the matter was still ongoing. Given Jai had been sanctioned, we thought the matter was closed, but then as I said, I was advised that it wasn’t,” Green explained on Monday.

Arrow has been suspended for two games and fined $35,000 for the breach, but Green has not been involved in the investigation nor in the process of deciding on Arrow’s punishment.

“I haven’t personally been involved, it’s been an (NRL) integrity unit investigation,” he said.

Arrow apologised for his misstep in a statement released by Queensland Rugby League on Thursday and Green reinforced the star’s contrition on Monday.

Green coached the Cowboys to their inaugural NRL premiership in 2015 but hasn’t had the same success as an Origin coach yet. Picture: Adam HeadSource:News Corp Australia

“Jai’s extremely apologetic. The whole thing’s regrettable. Jai’s put his hand up, he apologised, he was very remorseful and understands the risk to the game and to the NRL biosecurity bubble that it was,” Green said.

“He’s paid a heavy price, he’s been sanctioned. I think you’ve also got to consider that he’s a young man that made a pretty big mistake, but he also owned it and now we’re moving on with it.”

Green was adamant that no other players had been involved in the breach

“We spoke to the players, the players have been staunch in their position that there was no one else involved in the breach and so I don’t have any other information other than that,” he said.

Green’s tenure as Maroons coach has started on an unhappy note. The Maroons suffered the biggest defeat in their history in his first game in the hot seat, and when the side lost in his second, Green became the first Maroons coach since 1993 to lose both his first two games.

The Maroons are looking to avoid their first series whitewash since 2000 when they face the Blues one last time on Wednesday.

The Maroons have struggled to put points on the board this series. Picture: Bradley Kanaris/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

The game had originally been scheduled for Sydney’s Stadium Australia, but the NRL shifted it to McDonald Jones Stadium in Newcastle on Wednesday amid the Harbour City’s Covid-19 outbreak.

The league was forced to relocate the match again on Saturday, announcing that the NSW government had blocked the venue change out of fear it could spread Covid-19 to Newcastle and surrounding areas.

Origin III will now be played on the Gold Coast, making 2021 the first series with all three games played in the same state.

The Maroons welcome back Kalyn Ponga for his first Origin game since 2019, while Cowboys flyer Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow and Broncos forward Thomas Flegler are set to make their Origin debuts on the Gold Coast.

In his first Origin outing, Tabuai-Fidow has the unenviable task of playing opposite the NRL’s form player, Tom Trbojevic, who has scored four tries so far this series.

After the Maroons lost the first two games of the series by a combined total of 76-6, pundits were quick to speculate that Green’s first series as Maroons kingpin could be his last.

But the premiership-winning coach said his future in the job was not on his mind ahead of Origin III.

“All I’m worried about is Wednesday night’s game,” he said.

“The only thing that’s in my control is that.”

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