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3 days ago
NSW coach Ricky Stuart is resigned to next Wednesday?s Origin clash in Sydney being refereed under a different set of rules to club football, but workhorse back-rower Craig Fitzgibbon says external factors won?t faze the Blues as they shape to square the series on home soil.
The Blues camp was livid with an obvious shift in rule interpretations from NRL club matches, most notably Paul Simpkins failing to sin-bin Carl Webb for being the third man into a fracas as tempers reached fever pitch in the 27th minute of the dramatic series opener.
In round seven, Roosters half Brett Finch was suspended for two games following a similar incident against St George Illawarra ? a decision the feisty 23-year-old described as ?laughable?.
?Before game one I was told that the interpretations were going to be the same as club matches,? Stuart said.
?But they weren?t.
?There is a difference between Origin and club football.?
Pressed as to whether Webb deserved to be given a spell on the sidelines in light of the Finch incident, the rookie Origin coach remained coy.
?That?s your opinion?run with it,? he said.
?Maybe I agree with you.?
But NSW?s standout player in game one, Fitzgibbon, said the Blues could ill afford to be concerned with external factors.
?If we?re worried about anything other than the game then the series is over, simple as that,? Fitzgibbon explained.
But the 59-tackle game one hero said that the fiery cauldron of Origin football didn?t deserve to see Webb marched from the field.
?I don?t think he should?ve got sent off or anything,? Fitzgibbon said.
?He just played passionately.
?I?m not sure what else the ref could?ve done.
?Obviously I can?t make too much comment or I?ll get in trouble.
?But it was pretty obvious what we were feeling and what everyone was thinking after the game.
?I think there were a lot of underlying factors that led up to (the frustration in the NSW camp after game one).
?Maybe that was just one of them ? I don?t think it was a send-off though.?