SPORTING DECLARATION: Sour grapes of wrath

Thank God for that.

Just as Sporting Declaration was preparing to utter two words guaranteed to offend 99 per cent of readers – ‘‘Go Queensland’’ – along comes big Mal Meninga to cure my temporary insanity.

In the aftermath of the Origin-series opener, this long-suffering Blues fan (aren’t we all) had reached the conclusion that I could no longer bring myself to cheer for NSW in this campaign.

Sure, the Blues were courageous and competitive in game one and can rightly feel the Greg Inglis ‘‘try’’ was the greatest travesty of justice since Inglis was allowed to label himself a Queenslander in the first place.

But the post-match clamour to publicly lynch the match officials painted our entire state as a bunch of sooks.

Last I heard, Queensland were already leading when Inglis ‘‘scored’’.

It was a tough call but did not necessarily change the result.

Yet the whingeing would have put a stuck pig to shame.

Paul Gallen’s on-field spray was fair enough. You can forgive a warrior venting his frustration in the heat of battle.

But NSW coach Ricky Stuart’s decision to ban his players from talking to the media, apparently in ‘‘protest’’ at the raw deal he felt they copped from the powers-that-be, showed all the class of a two-year-old brat who has just dropped his ice-cream.

Just think about it.

Origin is one of the most hyped sporting events on the Australian calendar.

For weeks it dominates the back page of every paper and leads every TV and radio bulletin.

You can’t put a price on that type of publicity. On game day, literally hundreds of media types fly in to cover it, at considerable expense to the companies involved.

This includes Channel Nine, which pays a fortune for the broadcasting rights.

Then come full-time, they learn that no NSW players will be available to talk because their coach has thrown the toys out of his cot?


There were even suggestions that Stuart would continue to gag his players in the lead-up to Origin II, before he magnanimously told them: ‘‘In regards to media, I believe it is important for you to be available if you are comfortable doing so.’’

The worst part of this whole infantile episode is the example it sets to every other NRL administrator, coach, player and even up-and-coming juniors.

Origin is the game’s highest level and attracts the most intense spotlight. If this is how Origin players and coaches react to a disappointing defeat, then what hope is there for those who hope to one day emulate them?

It would seem reasonable to assume that, had the Blues won, they would have welcomed interviews, posed for triumphant photos and laughed off any refereeing stinkers.

That all changed when the result did not go their way.

Their post-match petulance was an advertisement for poor sportsmanship.

All of which brings us back to big Mal, who has been teetering on the edge of weirdness since his infamous ‘‘rats and filth’’ tirade after Queensland’s successful campaign last year.

Asked this week about NSW’s refereeing gripes, Meninga replied: ‘‘You get sick of it after a while.

‘‘If we get beaten we just put our hand up and say we should play better ... they [NSW] don’t seem to have that sort of mentality.

‘‘Obviously they are trying to instil a bit of hatred into NSW supporters, trying to boost their team’s morale by saying they were unlucky, but that’s not the road we take.

‘‘We are not like that, that’s not the way that we prepared.

‘‘We understand the referees have got a tough job to do, all we can do is play by their rulings. We just get on and do the job.

‘‘That’s who we are.’’

Sounds to me like Meninga is having a whinge about NSW’s whingeing.

Therefore, he is a whinger.

And nobody like a whinger. Least of all a whinger from bloody Queensland.

So go the Blues. Let’s put those dirty, rotten Cane Toads back in their box.

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