Jarome Luai, the NSW five-eighth, has revealed the players were left embarrassed by the manhandling of Matt Burton during last year’s State of Origin series. Burton was clobbered by Dane Gagai and then put in a headlock by Tino Fa’asuamaleaui.
Blues players defending against a Queensland try attempt were slow to arrive on the scene, and the image of Burton surrounded by maroon jerseys has been burnt into their minds heading into Wednesday night’s series opener at Adelaide. Luai vows that it will never happen again and insists no one wants to let it happen in any game.
Isaah Yeo, a Blues forward, added that seeing Burton alone was not a great look and believes the boys tried to rush there as quickly as they could. Memories of the manhandling have been addressed by the Blues as they aim to put up a strong defence on Wednesday night.
Blues big man, Junior Paulo, says they are using criticism about being bashed up last year as motivation this year. They want to wipe the plate clean and respond with a good performance as the games are won in the middle in the Origin arena.
Blues backrower Liam Martin welcomes the “chief grub” tag but is still disappointed that the forward pack was outgunned last year. He wants to bring back the physicality and not take a backward step, ensuring they have each other’s back. After last year’s series, the players were deeply disappointed, and they have wanted the opportunity to get one back on Queensland since then. Martin is determined to change things this time around.