JOSH Jackson has hit back at criticism of his man-of-the-match award in State of Origin II, saying the Blues' loss did not take the shine off his individual performance.
Jackson was just the fifth man in Origin history to get the man-of-the-match nod from the losing side, and the first since Steve Walters way back in 1991, with Australian selectors Bob Fulton, Darren Lockyer and Mal Meninga creating a social media storm when the announcement was made.
The NSW lock was outstanding in his opening 34-minute stint, repeatedly bending Queensland's line and doing the hard yards to establish ruck dominance as the Blues got out to a 16-6 lead.
However, his contribution in the second half, a 15-minute burst, was less notable as the Maroons started to grab the momentum and charge home.
In that period Dane Gagai, Billy Slater, Johnathan Thurston and Dylan Napa were all outstanding, with many believing the award should have gone to one of that quartet.
While Gagai scored two tries and ran for nearly 200m, and Thurston played a key role and kicked the winning goal with his shoulder hanging out of its socket, Jackson finished the match with the underwhelming statistics of nine runs for 64m and 24 tackles.
Clearly the game's not all about stats but the curious decision of the selectors angered Paul Vautin, who blew up in Channel Nine's post-match show, adamant that the best player on the field had to be a Queenslander.
Many fans shared his disbelief on social media but Jackson was bemused by the controversy.
"I had no idea (about winning the award) until a fair way after the game. There's a lot of guys out there who deserved it, and I didn't pick myself for it, so it's a nice thing to have but there were a lot of other guys out there who could have got it, clearly," Jackson said.
"I thought I did the job that was asked of me. I'm in there to try and bring a little bit of energy to the side and try to get a few quick play-the-balls, get off the back of the big guys, and try and look after those guys a bit with doing sort of the running around the ruck.
"I thought I did that pretty well."
Asked if the loss took the gloss off the award, Jackson replied: "Not really.
"Particularly the position we were in at half-time, we gave ourselves every chance to win the game. We were up by 16-6 at that point and coming in after the game, everyone was sort of scratching their head at how we lost it.
"Just a few silly plays and I think we sort of started playing a bit negative, so that was it."
Jackson admitted he could barely watch the last 10 minutes unfold from the sideline.
"It was hard to watch mate. Queensland had a fair bit of possession and we did well in patches," he said.
"And then that last play, sometimes they're hard to stop. When they've got all the momentum, Queensland, and the players they have in that team, it's hard to stop the momentum."