Smith: No leniency for State of Origin fighters
DAVID BARBELER AND JAMES MACSMITH
Rugby league boss David Smith has issued an ultimatum ahead of tonight's second State of Origin match that any players who engage in fighting can expect no leniency at the judiciary.
In the past players have been granted considerable leeway in the Origin arena when compared to the NRL. But since Paul Gallen's one-way fisticuffs with Nate Myles in the series opener, ARL Commission chief executive Smith has drawn a clear line in the sand to indicate fighting will no longer be tolerated by the game's governing body at any level.
That stance was confirmed earlier this week when four Under-20s players were banned for a total of 14 matches after a wild brawl in a game between Canberra and Wests Tigers.
''We've got millions of people watching that game tonight, lots of mums, and we want their little girls and their little boys to be playing our game,'' Smith said today.
''That's the long and short of it. We've made our position pretty clear, there's no different rules, the rules will be applied.''
Ahead of the match both Queensland and NSW have conceded that the goalposts have shifted in regard to the game's stance on illegal play and that players who want to punch on will inevitably be sin-binned or even sent-off and could cost their side victory.
Smith said he was sure both players and match officials now understood that the fighting that was tolerated in the past would no longer be.
''We apply the rules consistently and that's what will happen this evening and the referees know that,'' he said.
''You've heard both teams talk and all they really care about is winning. And frankly the rules are the rules. And I'm sure all the players will abide by the rules and if they don't, our position is pretty clear and the referees will apply the rules.
''It's probably one of the most anticipated games in history tonight. The crowd will be great and the game will be great."