State of Origin - QLD v NSW: Game 1
State of Origin - QLD v NSW: Game 1

‘That’s a fallacy’: Bennett hits back at dual attacks

Wayne Bennett has hit back at Cameron Smith and the Blues over separate concussion and wrestling accusations levelled against the super coach and Queensland ahead of tomorrow night's Origin decider.

In a spicy preamble to Origin III at Suncorp Stadium, Bennett came under attack on dual fronts, with Smith sensationally attacking the coach who gave him his Origin debut in 2003 by claiming the Maroons mentor - not the Storm - brought dirty wrestling tactics to rugby league.

The Smith revelations, contained in his controversial new book, came as the New South Wales camp took aim at the Maroons, asking the NRL why Jake Friend wasn't subjected to a HIA after a heavy collision in the Blues' 34-10 win in Origin II.

Wayne Bennett and Cameron Smith in 2004.
Wayne Bennett and Cameron Smith in 2004.

 

In his book, Smith accuses Bennett, a long-time critic of Melbourne's tackling tactics, of hypocrisy over the wrestling debate.

He writes in part: "When I played State of Origin in Queensland in 2003, we had wrestling coaches there - and Wayne Bennett, one of the greatest so-called opponents of the wrestle, was our coach.

"The wrestling coach was Chris Haseman, who had been working with the Broncos since 1998."

But in the build-up to the Origin decider, 17 years after Bennett blooded Smith in Maroon at Suncorp in 2003, the super coach gave the Storm champion an uppercut, suggesting he is talking too much.

"If I pioneered it (wrestling), we didn't do it very well did we, so I won't claim it," Bennett said.

"I'm not sure where to go with this to be honest with you.

"It's the third State of Origin, it's 1-all, a massive game and we are talking about Cameron Smith and his book."

 

Cameron Smith and coach Wayne Bennett share a joke during the team photo for the World All Stars in 2016. Picture: Darren England
Cameron Smith and coach Wayne Bennett share a joke during the team photo for the World All Stars in 2016. Picture: Darren England

 

Asked about Smith's suggestion that Bennett would struggle to hold dual roles as Souths and Queensland coach next year, the 70-year-old replied: "Cam is saying a lot at the moment, so good on him."

Bennett also fired back at the Blues, saying Queensland's medical team is offended and enraged by suggestions they did not subject Friend to rigorous HIA testing to clear him for Origin III.

"Jake never had a head knock, so that's a fallacy," he said.

"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.

"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."

Meanwhile, the selection drama continues at Camp Maroon, with Bennett set to make a raft of changes as Queensland plot one of Origin's great series boilovers.

Souths rookie Corey Allan is set to make his debut at fullback, pushing Valentine Holmes to the wing, while cousins Brenko and Edrick Lee are also on track to be blooded in a modified Maroons backline.

Winger Xavier Coates is battling a groin injury with Edrick on standby for his debut, while Brenko is likely to overcome a calf injury to start in the centres, which would push Kurt Capewell into the starting back-row.

If Capewell starts on the left edge in the forwards, Jaydn Su'A will be relegated to the bench, joining debutant Harry Grant, Jai Arrow and Lindsay Collins on interchange at the expense of Game Two rookie Dunamis Lui.

"If Brenko can get through training, we're confident he will do that, he trained on Sunday and was good so we are pretty confident he will play," Bennett said.

Of Allan, he said: "It's obviously a big test, he answered all that with us in the last two years at Souths.

"He was on the wing and handled it well, then he came into fullback when Latrell (Mitchell) got injured and he did a good job there.

"He has got his confidence and he is as good an option as we have got with all the injuries. I am confident in Corey."

Originally published as 'That's a fallacy': Bennett hits back at dual attacks


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