Matthew Johns has labelled the NSW Origin side as “classless” in comparison to the Queensland culture which provided the backbone of the Maroons’ 2017 series victory.
Johns was scathing in his assessment of the current state of the Blues in the wash-up following their 11th series loss in 12 years, which has resulted in the leadership qualities of the NSW coaching staff and senior players being called into question.
A number of issues have surfaced in the aftermath of the 2017 series including revelations Andrew Fifita refused to be relegated to the bench for Game III after coach Laurie Daley told him he had decided to start David Klemmer.
Fifita is said to have told Daley in no uncertain terms that would not be happening, to which Daley relented, calling the coach’s leadership into question by senior players.
Just as damning are reports that Josh Dugan and Blake Ferguson went on a bender days before Game III at the Lennox Point Hotel while in camp, with patrons stating the players were intoxicated and skylarking.
NSWRL chief Dave Trodden said the incident had been raised with senior staff.
The current state of the Blues is in stark contrast to the ‘no dickheads’ policy adhered to by Maroons players and staff which sees squads selected on off-field merit and an ability to buy into team culture rather than solely on form.
Speaking on Fox’s NRL 360 program, Queensland coach Kevin Walters said his players were about what was best for the team as evidenced by Billy Slater’s response to his Game I snubbing.
“When I called Billy Slater to tell him he wasn’t going to be playing in Game I, he said he understood and told me to let him know if we needed anything in the build up to the game,” Walters said on Fox’s NRL 360.
“I half expected him to tell me he wanted to take me out the back. He texted me all week asking how everything was going.”
Matthew Johns responded by saying such “class” was non-existent in NSW’s culture.
“That (Slater) is all class. We (NSW) are classless,” he said.
“I wouldn’t let a few of the NSW players babysit my kids. And that’s normally a good way to judge someone.”