Jarome Luai calls out devious Queensland act as Cameron Smith floats theory about Origin beef

Luai and Smith have both offered interesting takes amid the ugly situation surrounding Reece Walsh.

Jarome Luai has made startling claims that Queensland's heavy criticism of Joseph Suaalii's hit on Reece Walsh might be a ploy to discourage them from targeting the fullback again in State of Origin 2. Walsh was knocked out by Suaalii in just the eighth minute of Origin 1, but has been cleared to return in Game 2 in Melbourne.

Suaalii was hit with a four-match ban for his high tackle on Walsh, and Queensland assistant coaches Johnathan Thurston and Nate Myles were very vocal in their criticism. Speaking to the media on Tuesday, NSW five-eighth Luai floated the theory that the Maroons might be using an underhanded tactic to try and get in the Blues players' heads.

Reece Walsh, Cameron Smith and Jarome Luai.
Cameron Smith (centre) and Jarome Luai (R) have both floated theories about the State of Origin furore around Reece Walsh (L). Image: Getty

“I don’t know if it is Queensland’s ploy for scaring us,” Luai said. “He is definitely one of the x-factor players with how fast he is, how crafty he is. You want him to feel that pressure leading into a game. Definitely not intentional to hurt anyone. It is just game playing, it is the willingness to defend great players.

"As a group and as a team going into this Game 2, we can’t fall into that trap (of Queensland mind games). That is footy, that is just footy. It is going to happen. Players are moving at high speeds and there are collisions in our sport."

Also on Tuesday, Walsh revealed he'd exchanged text messages with Suaalii and there was no ill-will between the pair, while also dismissing claims he might be 'gun shy' in Origin 2 after the incident in the series opener. "If I had any doubts or was scared I wouldn't pull on the Queensland jersey," he said. "I know how much it means to the people of Queensland and past players. They need a team that is willing to put their body on the line and do whatever for their state. If I was scared or shy in any way I would pull myself out."

The issue of whether NSW 'targeted' Walsh in Game 1 has been a big talking point. And NSW forward Liam Martin said on Tuesday the Blues would continue their attack on the 21-year-old fullback - within the rules.

"I treat it the exact same. It doesn't change," Martin said. "He's such a key for them so we'll be going after him. We're obviously not intentionally going there to hurt or injure him. It's part of the game. Nothing will change."

Liam Martin in State of Origin I.
Liam Martin in action for NSW in State of Origin I. Image: Getty

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The issue of whether NSW went out to hurt Walsh has sparked somewhat of a beef between coaches Michael Maguire and Billy Slater. On Monday, Maguire said the Maroons were living in 'glass houses' - which many took to be a reference to Slater's rap sheet during his playing days, which included a number of suspensions.

But according to Queensland great Cameron Smith, the beef has been concocted entirely by the Sydney media. “That’s just a few of those Sydney journos, they’re beating the drums a little bit there,” he said on SEN radio.

“They’re trying to drum up a bit of spice for Game 2 because the build up in Game 1, Madge (Maguire) was really professional as Billy was. So they’re trying to beat it up a little bit and build up the game because they’re under the pump, they need to spice it up a little bit and find something. At the end of the day, that’s not going to worry the Queenslanders too much, they’re up in camp, they’re a settled footy side.”