Tate "just worried about the players' welfare"
Brent Tate has expressed his disappointment at the backlash to his comments surrounding Josh Reyolds' controversial tackle on him in Origin I, saying he spoke out only because of his concerns about player safety.
Tate, who revealed this interstate campaign will almost certainly be his last, was the victim of a lifting tackle involving Blues Josh Reynolds and Beau Scott in the opening match at Suncorp Stadium.
Speaking to reporters after the match, the former Warriors star said: "I've never been more frightened in all my life" and that he feared he would end up in a "hospital bed", in a reference to Newcastle forward Alex McKinnon's broken neck.
The comments have been seized upon by Blues identities, with some claiming it a conspiracy to have Canterbury playmaker Reynolds kept out of Origin II.
Reynolds, who subsequently earned a downgrade at the judiciary which allows him to take his place in the ANZ Stadium encounter, said "I believe what happens on the field stays on the field", while his father, Robbie, claimed it was a "disgrace" that McKinnon's name was continually being dragged into every tackling controversy.
Tate, who has come back from a number of career-threatening neck injuries, said the fallout has been unfair.
"I said my piece. I'm a bit disappointed in how it has all been handled, but that's out of my control," Tate told Fairfax Media.
"At the end of the day I'm just worried about the players' welfare and the game as a whole. That's all I was trying to say, that was my biggest concern.
"I think it's been taken well out of context but good luck to them."
Asked if, as a veteran of the game and the victim of the tackle, whether he had earned the right to comment, the North Queensland three-quarter said: "I have. I've been disappointed about how it's been handled. It's about player welfare and that's my biggest concern. That's all my comments were about, making sure our game is safe to play. That's out of my control, I can't control what people write and say. It has been a bit of a wake-up call, I guess."
Speaking after last year's Origin series, Tate indicated he would continue to make himself available for the Maroons until selectors opted to overlook him.
However, the 32 year old has subsequently had a change of heart due to the toll the marquee matches were taking.
"The way I feel at the moment, yeah," he said when asked if this will be his last series. "I'll enjoy it as much as I have previously, but . . . [it's taxing] physically and also mentally.
"I'm enjoying it still, don't get me wrong, but it's just getting harder. I'm also aware too that they're getting to a stage where they need to bring some young guys through. At the end of the day, you never know, but I'd be very surprised if I was playing rep footy next year."
Tate had a first-hand view of the form of Parramatta centres Willie Tonga and Will Hopoate, who are in contention for centre berths for the Maroons and Blues respectively. The Cowboys veteran said both would acquit themselves well if chosen.
"Obviously Tong wouldn't let anyone down if he got the chance and I thought Hoppa played really well, he carried the ball strongly," he said.
"Either one of them wouldn't look out of place, that's for sure."