There’s just one more sleep until the Maroons host the Blues at Suncorp Stadium in the State of Origin decider.
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BENNETT HITS BACK
QLD coach Wayne Bennett has fired back at reports NSW phone the NRL demanding an explanation over why Jake Friend wasn’t taken from the field for a HIA in Game II despite suffering what looked to be concussion symptoms.
“Jake never had a head knock, so that’s a fallacy,” he said on Tuesday.
“He didn’t get knocked out, is that clear?
“I don’t care what NSW think … he didn’t get knocked out, OK?
“It didn’t upset me but our doctor is not happy about it.
“His integrity has been questioned here.”
Bennett went on to claim Friend didn’t actually hit his head — despite hitting the deck twice in 30 seconds — and it was a previous shoulder injury that bothered him.
“Jake never had a head knock at any stage of the game, he had a shoulder injury from the week before and he hurt it again in the game.
“It was of no relevance to his head whatsoever.”
NSW WANT ANSWERS OVER FRIEND HEAD KNOCK
Fresh off receiving a formal warning from the NRL for the handling of Boyd Cordner’s head knock in Game I, NSW have questioned why QLD hooker Jake Friend did not undergo a HIA in Game II despite showing potential concussion symptoms.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports at least one NSW staff member has asked for an explanation from NRL’s chief medical officer, Paul Bloomfield,
Friend suffered two head knocks in 30 seconds. He was knocked by Blues hardman Nathan Brown and stayed down for a few seconds before returning to his feet. Then 27 seconds later he raced out of the line to put kick pressure on Nathan Cleary but ended up hitting the back of his head on the turf.
The NRL believes a HIA wasn’t needed in Friend’s case.
“All head knocks and HIAs are assessed as a matter of course. No further action was deemed necessary in this particular case,” an NRL spokesperson told the Herald on Monday.
However, NSW weren’t so convinced.
“With the focus on HIA management after the Boyd Cordner incident, plus the focus on player welfare, it beggars belief why Jake Friend’s two incidents did not warrant him coming from the field for an assessment,’’ a source close to the Blues told the Herald.
The QRL were reportedly not happy that NSW had probed the NRL about Friend’s head knocks.
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LEGENDS BACK FITTLER’S PAPENHUYZEN SNUB
Blues greats Peter Sterling and Paul Gallen have backed NSW coach Brad Fittler’s decision not to blood Ryan Papenhuyzen as a debutant in Game III.
The Clive Churchill Medal winner was in Fittler’s plans after inspiring the Storm to premiership glory, but a calf injury rubbed him out for the first two Origins.
Fittler chose to keep faith with the 17 that got the job done in Game II, with Papenhuyzen having to settle for a spot in the reserves and Sterling believes it is the right call.
“There’s no need to change,” Sterling told Wide World of Sports’ The Blueprint.
“The interesting consideration again was the bench – If Ryan Papenhuyzen was available, do you put him in there to cover the backline?
“The key man there is Isaah Yeo who can slot into the centres if needed. Not ideally, but he will get a job done for you.
“He gives you the flexibility to have the other forwards there.”
There is no doubting Papenhuyzen’s speed would be a valuable commodity off the bench for the Blues, but blooding a debutant in a decider is a massive call, especially when it would change the winning formula from the last match.
Gallen believes the versatility of a number of Blues backline stars enables Fittler to carry four forwards on his bench.
“They’ve got enough in that backline,” Gallen said.
“Guys like Clint Gutherson and Jack Wighton can transfer to the halves or fullback if they need to. Even the wing if Gutherson needed to.
“And as Sterling said, Isaah Yeo can fill in any other one of those spots in the outside backs.
“If Papenhuyzen wasn’t injured for Game I I think he would’ve been picked for Game I and would’ve been there for the series.
“It’s a shame the timing of the injury he has and can’t see the side being changed.”
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