The stage is set for a fiery State of Origin decider after two brutal moments involving Blues stars sent a few key Maroons racing against time.
These are the two moments that lit a fuse under the Brisbane state of origin decision.
According to the Courier Mail, Queensland was furious after tackles by Blues stars Nathan Cleary and Stephen Crichton that cast doubt on two key Maroons players ahead of Game 3.
Queensland playmaker Cameron Munster revealed after the 44-12 loss in Perth that he suffered a shoulder injury early in the second half.
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“I got a little sore in the 45 minutes into the game,” he told the Daily Telegram†
“I got a shoulder from (Stephen) Crichton about five minutes into the second half. I tried my best, but I wasn’t good enough.”
A vision of the incident surfaced on social media Monday and appears to show Crichton driving his shoulder into Munster while standing upright in a tackle.
Crichton was cleared by the Match Review Committee, but should Munster be excluded, Queensland will feel hurt.
MRC Commissioner Luke Patten on Monday defended the decision to purge Crichton.
“When Stephen Crichton joins the tackle, he seems to be trying to grab, but his space is taken by another defender,” Patten told News Corp.
“His actions were not careless.”
Munster had ice on his shoulder after the game and left the ground in a sling. The NRL Physio said the nature of the blow raised concerns that he had suffered an AC joint injury, which could result in two to four weeks on the sidelines.
Fullback Kalyn Ponga, meanwhile, was central to the second incident.
Blues halfback Cleary raced out of line and hit a big hit on Ponga in the 70th minute.
Ponga was forced to leave the field for a head injury assessment, with the Bunker determining that the blow met the requirements of a Category 1 concussion.
Cleary was placed on report but was not charged.
Ponga has since been banned from the Knights’ Round 16 showdown with the Titans on Friday.
After the game, Queensland national team manager Billy Slater said they would be cautious with Ponga given his history of headbutts.
“He obviously got a shot to the head when he hit the ground,” Slater said.
“He wobbled on the pitch, so he came right off, we made sure he came straight off and made sure he was okay.
“He clearly missed the [Penrith] also play with a head knock. We need to make sure he’s okay. In the barns he seems fine, but the doctors will assess him.”
Originally published as Two Brutal Blues Blows Leave Maroons ‘Smoking’ as the Fuse Is Lit for a Fiery Decider