Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
2 days ago
Queensland skipper Gorden Tallis has dismissed attacks on NSW coach Phil Gould as a "prank" to stir up his players for Wednesdays night's State of Origin opener at Suncorp Stadium.
But the fiery Maroons forward believes all the criticism from former leading NSW players, including Brett Kenny and Ben Elias, could help the Blues' cause.
Elias, the champion Balmain hooker, called for Gould's sacking last month while Kenny said this week Gould's treatment of star NSW halfback Andrew Johns had been "disgraceful".
Kenny, a NSW origin legend, even went as far as saying he hoped Queensland won the prestigious interstate series 3-0 so Gould would not be re-appointed next year.
Tallis however was cautious about buying into the great debate after Queensland copped a rev-up from coach Wayne Bennett for the sloppy way it finished a 90 minute training session at the Runaway Bay Sports Complex on the Gold Coast this morning.
"To be quite honest we really haven't spoken about it, and I doubt we really even think about it much," said Tallis.
"What's being said is only going to benefit them (NSW players).
"It's only going to help them play better, it's certainly not going to make them play any worse."
Tallis, who dismissed any concerns about fronting up against referee Bill Harrigan on Wednesday night, said the 34 players involved in the rugby league spectacular were professional enough that they didn't need added motivation to play well for their state. "But they are on a hiding to nothing and everybody keeps bagging them, so it's a dangerous situation for Queensland," Tallis said.
The rampaging Queensland backrower said he didn't think the Gould saga was orchestrated and the Queensland camp was not taking notice of newspaper headlines.
"We've got a rule in camp, we don't read newspapers, that's where all the pressure comes from," he said.
"As a team we stay out of all that ... the hype will take care of itself on Wednesday night."
The Queensland preparation has rolled along without a hitch, which is probably causing some anxious moments with the Maroons camp just waiting for something to happen.
North Queensland captain Paul Bowman seems likely to play a role in the forwards after training in various positions.