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Origin tempers may flare: Qld

Queensland coach Mal Meninga says the NRL's hardline stance on punching came a game too late but is no guarantee that the days of State of Origin fights are over.
Origin tempers may flare: Qld
by AAP

By Laine Clark and Jim Morton

BRISBANE, June 18 AAP - Queensland coach Mal Meninga says the NRL's hardline stance on punching came a game too late but is no guarantee that the days of State of Origin fights are over.

The Maroons have been quick to rule out retribution in next week's Origin II in Brisbane in the fallout over NSW skipper Paul Gallen's game one fisticuffs.

However, the stage is set for round two after Gallen's 2012 NRL finals nemesis - Canberra enforcer Josh Papalii - was injected into a new-look Queensland side to add more grunt for Origin II.

Meninga said he agreed with the NRL's reaction to Gallen's fight with Maroons forward Nate Myles that marred NSW's game one 14-6 win but did not rule out repeat scenes next Wednesday night.

"I don't think you can guarantee that (no fighting) in any game of rugby league or any combative sport - there will always be flare ups and tempers tested," he said.

"It's probably a game too late but I can understand the decision.

"But it's an aggressive game and at times tempers do flare.

"We need to be better at controlling our emotions a bit better but Origin is all about emotion - we will see what happens."

Meninga said 21-year-old Papalii's selection was due to outstanding NRL form - not blunting Gallen.

"He's very combative when he plays - you need that mentality," he said.

Papalii - Queensland's 19th man in game one - turned heads with a series of hits on Gallen in last season's NRL first round finals match.

An angry Gallen later called one of Papalii's hits a "dog shot".

Papalii - cousin of world-ranked heavyweight boxer Alex Leapai - said he would not be looking for trouble but would not stand and cop punches like Myles in game one.

"I am going to put the team first but I am not going to stand there and get my head punched in," he said.

"If something happens I have to look after myself.

"But if I want to be a boxer I would take up boxing."

The NSW camp feared the new stance on fighting may prompt Queensland to bait them in game two - and Meninga did not exactly play it down.

"It's all niggle anyway. It's not what we do but it's an aggressive game," he smiled.

Maroons skipper Cameron Smith said the stance had to be taken but also questioned the timing.

"I think it is a good move but the strange thing is that it starts in game two and not at the start," he said.

"Gal did what he did and stayed on the field and now if something like that happens you are off.

"But I am surprised it (issue) has gone on for so long."

So, too, was the man on the receiving end of Gallen's now infamous combination.

"I can't see why it's been a big talking point," Myles said.

"To be honest I think it's a rule that's been coming for a long time.

"I don't think it was a good look for the code."


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