Criticism of Queensland’s team culture may have “hurt” but coach Paul Green is confident it will galvanize the wounded Maroons and inspire a State of Origin game three upset.
Green conceded Queensland shouldn’t be surprised that the knives are out for the embattled team ahead of Wednesday’s dead rubber following their dire run.
The once-mighty Maroons are at risk of becoming the first Queensland side to lose a series 3-0 on home soil after Origin III was relocated from Newcastle to the Gold Coast due to the escalating COVID-19 outbreak in Greater Sydney.
Losing the first two games at home by a combined points aggregate of 76-6 was a bad enough look for Green in his first year at the Maroons helm.
More questions have been raised over Queensland’s leadership after the latest controversy caused by forward Jai Arrow being forced to leave camp following a biosecurity breach at the Gold Coast team hotel.
Green admitted Arrow’s actions were “not good enough” but believed the barbs aimed their way had stung.
His only consolation was a firm belief it would spur Queensland into action as they try to avoid NSW claiming their first whitewash in 21 years.
“When people do criticise your culture, yeah, that does hurt,” he said.
“The culture has been set in the last 40 years. It is not in the last two games since I have been head coach.
“That hurts. But when you get the results that we have gotten so far you leave yourself open to questions on those areas.
“[Personally] it’s not nice to hear that kind of stuff but the only way we can answer that is on Wednesday night.
“Whether or not it brings them together [I don’t know] but I am confident it will.”
Green said Queensland were already under enough pressure to perform in game three and didn’t think relocating the Ampol State of Origin finale to Cbus Super Stadium changed anything.
“I don’t think so. We feel the pressure. We understand the situation,” he said.
Green in particular is feeling the heat after a nightmare start to his tenure. In game one Queensland suffered a record 50-6 loss. In Origin II they were held scoreless at spiritual home Suncorp Stadium for the first time to the tune of 26-0.
Yet Green cut a relaxed figure on Monday reports that a whitewash would sabotage any chance of extending his one-year Maroons deal.
He had appeared to be feeling the heat on Friday, raising eyebrows when he delivered an initial 20-second statement on Arrow’s exit before walking out on media, leaving players Christian Welch and Kurt Capewell to face the music.
However, Green didn’t shirk any questions on Monday, finally expanding on why he had been so brief with the media and ruling out any other players being involved in the Arrow breach.
“I was advised on the way to training not to make a comment as the matter was still ongoing,” he said of his 40-word Arrow statement.
“Given Jai had been sanctioned we thought the matter was closed but then I was advised it wasn’t, it was still ongoing. I haven’t personally been involved [in the ongoing investigation]. It has been an integrity unit investigation, they are conducting it.
“We spoke to the players. The players have been staunch in their position that there was no one else involved in the breach so I don’t have any other information other than that.”
Green said the Arrow drama was a disruption but felt for the South Sydney forward.
“Jai is extremely apologetic. The whole thing is regrettable,” he said.
“Jai put his hand up, he apologised, he was very remorseful and understands the risk to the game and the NRL biosecurity bubble that it was. It’s unfortunate and it is not good enough. But he’s paid a heavy price, he’s been sanctioned.
“I think we also have to consider that as a young man who has made a pretty big mistake he also owned it.”
Green was only coy when asked if he was worried about his own future. “All I am worried about is Wednesday night’s game. The only thing in my control is that, what we do from here on in,” he said.