NSW prop Andrew Fifita believes Queensland were given the slow ruck they wanted – and the resulting State of Origin decider – in their game-two win.
From the moment Fifita turned in a performance for the ages in the series opener, the rugby league spotlight hadn’t moved from the Blues’ forward in the lead-up to the return clash.
His star has dimmed after being kept quiet by a rugged Maroons defence that had refused to go away before stealing an 18-16 win and sending the series back to Brisbane.
Fifita admitted feeling contained after finishing with just 77 metres and three tackle busts – both less than half of his output from his heroic game-one effort.
The Cronulla prop also conceded the Maroons had successfully slowed down the ruck, with statistics revealing there were more than 40 additional plays three weeks ago at Suncorp Stadium.
“I did feel it, to be honest. They did their research,” he said.
“They were holding down a lot more normal than usual. It wasn’t as fast as game one, I could tell you that. The refs did their job. I felt like it was slower a bit. Game one was very fast.
“I think that’s what they wanted. They wanted to slow it down because I don’t think they can keep up with us in the middle. In saying that, they got the carrots.”
The Kangaroos’ representative also took a subtle swipe at the hierarchy’s decision to bunker down at The Star casino for game two instead of going back up to Kingscliff on the NSW far north coast.
After spending the week in camp, players were allowed to go home to family before regathering in Homebush ahead of the game on Wednesday.
“We’ll be ready to go for game three. We’re not at The Star or the Novotel here. We’ll go up into our own little camp. It’s a great place and all the boys are that tight,” Fifita said.
“If someone is moving, we’re all moving. You’ve seen what it is like up there. We’re there until the Tuesday. I can’t wait to go up there in three weeks – it’ll be the best preparation for us.
“It was tough at The Star. There were a few of us on level 16, but we couldn’t even get down to level 11. It was a bit different in the casino. It wasn’t as bad as I first thought it was going to be.
“(Coach Laurie Daley) gave us time to go home on the Friday to the family to regenerate. That’s respect to him. Moving forward, nothing beats being up away from everyone else.”