The 2018 State of Origin series, like almost every one before it, has had everything. The self-proclaimed greatest sporting rivalry has delivered closely fought contests, highlight reel moments interspersed with controversial and contentious refereeing decisions. What is different, at least for recent times, is a new champion with NSW winning just their second series in 13 years. Also peculiar is, after years of pretentiously calling for their opponents to accept the referee’s decision, we have been treated to the sight of Queensland spending every spare second complaining about the whistle-blowers.
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This whinging reached its zenith in Kevin Walters’ press conference to announce the Queensland team for the third game of the series. In a ramble that was as extraordinary as it was ridiculous, he mounted a passionate defence of his team. “At the end of the day people have been very critical of our side and our performance but we got beat by two penalty goals, or two goal kicks,” Walters said.
Not content to merely point out the paper-thin margin between the two sides he chose to also air a laundry list of grievances with the officiating in game two and display his misunderstanding of the phrase ‘taking it on the chin’. “We had a penalty try awarded against us for the first time in 36 years of Origin. That’s nearly 100 games, so that was a decision we took on the chin.” It was an odd opening salvo from a man with nearly 300 First Grade games and 20 Origins as a player under his belt. Surely somewhere in all this time, he must have learned that breaking the rules of the game is not absolved because the rule had never been enforced before. That said his next complaint might support an argument that being coach of Queensland doesn’t mean a person knows the rules of the game.
Over 20 years since the Video Referee was introduced to Rugby League to adjudicate on contentious decisions, Walters expressed some shock that it was used for this purpose in Origin Two. “We had the Dane Gagai no-try which there has been some (conjecture) about. It was awarded a try on field and then after seven or eight takes they found it to be a no-try,” he continued his display of how he took these things on the chin.
After spending 15 minutes explaining that officiating was the reason that his team hadn’t won Origin One or Two, he was quick to point out that he wasn’t using it as an excuse. “I’ll be speaking to the referees but we had our chances to win, I’m not using it as an excuse but I’m just pointing out that there’s been some certain things in certain games that just haven’t gone our way for whatever reason,” Walters said.
Then, after having done little to disguise his whinging, Walters either proved that he underestimates the intelligence of those listening, or that we overestimate his, by again declaring that he had done nothing of the sort. “But being Queenslanders we’ll cop it on the chin and move forward. We lost the game at the end of the day, it was no-one else’s fault but we just had some things that went against us”.
Either way, can somebody just have a whisper in Kevvie’s ear and let him know that he is using ‘take it on the chin’ completely wrong.