Rugby league great Cameron Smith has talked down claims of a “gentlemen’s agreement” between New South Wales and Queensland in tonight’s State of Origin series opener.
While Blues assistant Greg Alexander told NRL360 on Tuesday that his side wouldn’t stay down to milk penalties, Smith believes there’s “no way” a player won’t do whatever it takes to win an Origin game.
Smith was asked by Denan Kemp on SEN 1170’s The Captain’s Run if he expects Alexander’s comments to ring true.
“Please. No way,” Smith replied.
“These players are out there to win State of Origin. People don’t realise how hard it is to win a State of Origin game.
“If it comes down to the last two minutes of a game or the last five minutes of the game and the scores are level and you cop a slap in the face, they will lie down. I will promise you that.
“Is it a good look for the game? No it’s not but it is a direct result of these new rules.
“You’ve seen players lay down for a penalty because of how strict they are with contact.
“It’s not a new thing with this crackdown on high tackles but if it happens tonight and scores are level, someone gets hit high, I’ll tell you they will be laying on the ground.”
While Smith last played for his state in 2017, he admitted he’d “stay down” if he were out there representing the Maroons tonight.
“They are paid to win. They are not paid to do anything else,” Smith said.
“Whether that means they have to have a bit of gamesmanship about them then so be it.
“If they have an opportunity to do it and don’t and their team gets beaten tonight and their team goes on to lose the series, guess who they get hammered by?
“Certain parts of the media, the general public saying they didn’t have a go but if they win it is happy days, patting them on the back.
“You can’t blame someone if they have the opportunity to stay down, get a penalty, get two points and win the match.
“If I was playing tonight with the rules and the way it is officiated today, I would stay down.”
Origin I kicks off tonight at Queensland Country Bank Stadium in Townsville at 8:10pm (AEST).