Meninga takes aim over Origin referee snub
QUEENSLAND coach Mal Meninga has fired the first shots in State of Origin's war of words claiming he was snubbed by referees' boss Tony Archer who met with rival coach Laurie Daley before NSW wrapped up the series last month in an ugly and spiteful clash.
As Queensland's record-breaking coach launched into Archer for not informing him of his meeting with Daley and NSW rugby league immortal Bob Fulton prior to the second game, leading whistle-blower Shayne Hayne was officially dumped for next Wednesday night's Suncorp Stadium third clash and replaced by 34-year-old rookie referee Gerard Suton.
Hayne and Ben Cummins, who has retained his position for game three, were widely criticised for losing control of the second game which degenerated into an ugly, spiteful clash.
The pair had little control in the ruck and policed a poor 10 metres which contributed to the players' frustrations spilling over as almost every tackle involved some form of niggle and illegality.
Meninga revealed at yesterday's team announcement, in which Cooper Cronk was named to return from a broken arm and his Storm teammate Will Chambers called up to make his Origin debut, that he only found out about the meeting with the referee's boss after reading about it in the newspapers.
"That's one of my beefs, to be honest, that Laurie (NSW coach Laurie Daley) and Bob Fulton got the privilege of meeting the referees' boss prior to game two, I didn't even know anything about it (meeting) to be honest with you," said Meninga, who felt the secret meeting afforded the Blues an inside edge.
"I wasn't informed, I only found that out in the papers.
"What's happened in the past is that both coaches have had the opportunity to talk to the referees. If I wanted to talk to referees' boss he would go and talk to the NSW coach as well.
"That wasn't afforded to me in the second game. I was disappointed about that, to be honest with you."
Meninga said he had no problems with Hayne blowing the whistle in game three, but the NRL announced later in the day the game's number one referee had been punted.
"I honestly don't care who referees the game, they've got a tough job. I don't want to be a referee, do you want to be a referee?" he asked.
"I just want them to referee the game as we see it every weekend, get a good balance in the ruck and get our 10 metres back, that's all we ask."
Meninga said Queensland had not played to its full potential in the first two games but gave NSW credit for putting it offs its game.
"We haven't played well or to our potential and we need to do that but we've been beaten by a better side that has upset the way we want to play and they've got the better of us," he said.
He said Cronk had been given a full clearance to resume from his broken arm, dismissing concerns the Storm star was putting his season at risk.
"He's done all the contact that's needed and if he was available he would be playing for Melbourne Storm this weekend," said Meninga.
"It's just a broken arm," he quipped, having suffered four of them during his illustrious playing career.
"Cooper wouldn't be playing if he wasn't right to go. Cooper is an ultimate professional and one of the best players in the game. He wouldn't be jeopardising his health or his position by playing if he wasn't ready.
"He's fully fit, as are Corey Parker (eye socket fracture) and Matt Gillett (shoulder)."