Scott plays down Origin rivalry in Kangaroos camp
RUGGED North Queensland prop Matt Scott has rejected growing fears the bad blood created in this year’s State of Origin series may spill over into the Australian team later this year during the Four Nations series in the UK.
A lot was said by both camps before, during and after the interstate series and it all came to a head at ANZ Stadium when New South Wales captain and Kangaroos forward Paul Gallen snubbed Queensland and Australian captain Cameron Smith’s speech after the third game.
The Blues won the encounter after Queensland had wrapped up a 10th series in 11 years with wins in the first two games.
A number of senior Queensland players, led by champion No.6 Johnathan Thurston, accused Gallen of being disrespectful, which the Blues skipper denied, saying he and his players just wanted to celebrate the win with their fans.
Scott played down the likelihood of new Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga, who steered Queensland to a record eight straight series wins over NSW, inheriting any Origin baggage.
“It’s all part of the build-up and the hype and I think it adds to the rivalry for next year,” Scott said.
“When players wear that green and gold, we’re all very passionate about our country and representing that jersey and we know we all have a job to do.”
He said there was no chance of a repeat of the “old days” when NSW and Queensland players split ranks in Australian camp.
In 1985, Australian coach Terry Fearnley, who had coached NSW to an Origin series win that year, caused uproar when he dropped four Queensland players – Chris Close, Mark Murray, Greg Dowling and Greg Conescu – from his Test side to play New Zealand and replaced them with NSW players Steve Ella, Des Halser, Peter Tunks and Benny Elias.
The Kiwis kept Australia, which had won the first two Tests, scoreless in winning 18-0.
Meninga was a member of Fearnley’s 1985 Kangaroos.
“I wasn’t dropped, but what happened before the third Test was the catalyst for change,” Meninga told Australian Regional Media.
“Things are a lot different these days.”