Wayne Bennett Claims This News Headline Sparked The State Of Origin Biff
For the first time in years, we witnessed an old-fashioned State of Origin biff.
Tempers flared last night when Queensland's Tino Fa'asuamaleaui and New South Wales' Payne Haas locked horns in a fiery brawl that saw both men sin-binned for their actions.
But despite the on-field tensions between Fa'asuamaleaui and Haas appearing to blow over once the referee blew the whistle for full-time, Queensland head coach Wayne Bennett was eager for someone to put their hand up and take responsibility for the incident - and he wasn't talking about the players.
Speaking to the media after the heated game, Bennett took aim at a particular newspaper headline for seemingly inciting the 26-man fight.
Payne Haas & Tino Fa'asuamaleaui have been sent to the sin bin.#Origin pic.twitter.com/7blC4ioUhV
- NRL (@NRL) November 11, 2020
"I'd be concerned, it's not what we want," Bennett said.
"I've worked with you guys (journalists) for a long period of time so I know you'll take no responsibility for it but that was a headline in Brisbane today, and wherever it came from, it was a headline in the paper, I didn't read it all.
"They're young men, they're 20 years of age both of them, and headlines like that throw fuel onto the fire.
"I knew deep down there would be a blue here tonight between the pair of them and you won't take responsibility for it but if that's not a headline today, I don't think that's going to happen tonight."
It turns out the newspaper headline Bennett was referring to came from The Courier Mail.
The fairly innocuous story published during the build-up to Game 2 at ANZ Stadium touched on Fa'asuamaleaui and Haas' previous rivalry during an Under-18's State of Origin game almost three years ago.
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The newspaper has since responded to Bennett's claims via social media, saying: "Wayne Bennett's not happy with the Courier Mail. He's sensationally blamed us for igniting the State of Origin fight between Payne Haas and Tino Fa'asuamaleaui."
Wayne Bennett's not happy with the Courier Mail. He's sensationally blamed us for igniting the State of Origin fight between Payne Haas and Tino Fa'asuamaleaui, via @MCarayannis
Details: https://t.co/xu3APqznXO pic.twitter.com/k9mszraffB
- Courier Mail Sport (@cmail_sport) November 11, 2020
During the press conference, Bennett did add that the two individuals involved in the fight needed to take some responsibility themselves but insisted that the incident could have been avoided altogether.
"They both would have read the paper today and it stirs the emotion in them - that's my point," he said.
"They've got to be responsible for their actions as well I accept that, but you're talking about 20-year-olds here. You're talking about headlines about what happened 12 months ago, two years ago, I'm not even sure what the time frame was and the dislike for each other.
"That fight didn't come out of no where tonight, it was brewing from obviously this morning."
The Blues certainly redeemed themselves after the demoralising, upset defeat to Queensland in Game 1.
Brad Fittler's side went on to claim an emphatic 34-10 victory in Sydney to set up a do-or-die Game 3 decider at Suncorp Stadium next Wednesday.
And all biffs aside, it's shaping up to be an interesting conclusion to an already-entertaining series.
Featured Image Credit: Fox Sports Australia, Courier Mail
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