July 23, 2024

NSW figures were “filthy” Billy Slater left Blues coach Michael Maguire waiting the day before Wednesday night’s State of Origin blockbuster.

That’s the opinion of leading rugby league journalist Dean Ritchie, who has shared the thoughts privately coming from inside the NSW camp.

Ritchie said on Sky Sports Radio on Wednesday morning NSW was “miffed” when the Maroons camp arrived late for Tuesday’s final media event in Melbourne before Game 2 at the MCG.

It has been widely reported there is friction between Maguire and Slater after the pair exchanged thinly-veiled verbal barbs in the wake of Joseph Sua’ali’i’s ugly hit on fullback Reece Walsh during the Maroons’ victory in the series opener.

It’s why the sight of Slater, Queensland captain Daly Cherry-Evans and Storm hooker Harry Grant leaving the Blues waiting at Tuesday’s promotional event in Federation Square has raised eyebrows.

Ritchie reported in The Daily Telegraph: “The Blues were filthy, and Queensland’s tardiness has added further tension and hostility to a volatile build-up to State of Origin II”.

Slater and Maguire were seen behind the scenes shaking hands briefly before completing their media commitments without exchanging another word.

Ritchie said on Tuesday it was “quite awkward” seeing Slater and Maguire ignore each other

“The Blues were privately a little bit miffed though, it was for 12.30pm, they were ready to go at twenty past 12 and Queensland lobbed in at twenty to one,” he said on the Big Sports Breakfast.State of Origin 2017: Queensland Maroons player ratings

“And then even when Billy got there, Madge was waiting at the gate to go onto the stage and Billy decided to do some autographs and selfies. That’s fine to promote the game down here, I get it. But at the same time it took them another few minutes and they were close to 15 minutes late onto the stage.”

Speaking to NSW legend and Big Sports Breakfast radio host Laurie Daley, Ritchie said: “You know what it’s like Laurie, those little things tend to irritate you when you’re 24 hours out from the game.

“And it certainly did with the Blues.”

When asked if he thought it was a deliberate tactic, Ritchie replied: “I don’t know Laurie, you’d have to ask Billy that. I don’t know how you can be late when you work to a stringent itinerary.”


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