Cameron Smith was the linchpin to Queensland’s dominance which saw the Maroons capture 11 out of 12 series wins from 2006-2017, and NSW captain James Tedesco concedes if his side is to level the series, he will need to emulate the Queensland great’s penchant for “ref whispering” in order to keep the Blues on level footing with the match officials.
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Tedesco and coach Brad Fittler questioned referee Ashley Klein’s officiating of ruck infringements in Origin I, leading to the NRL to release data that countered suggestions of slower play-the-ball speeds than previous series.
The Blues lost the penalty count 4-3 but were given twice as many “six again” penalties as the Maroons but couldn’t convert.
Tedesco told The Sydney Morning Herald, NSW must create its own opportunities to get fast play-the-balls but communicating with the ref is also crucial in trying to swing the match their way.
“I definitely didn’t think about talking to the refs before I became a captain,” Tedesco said.
“Everyone knows Cam Smith was so good at it; he had a knack for picking the right time and talking to the refs in the right way. It did feel like he could influence the referee.
“I think I might have to. [Klein] didn’t give a penalty for 60 minutes [in Origin I]. He was just letting the game flow, but you can’t just let them lay all over you.
“It’s not up to the ref either, though. We’ve got to create that and put pressure on the referee if we do deserve those penalties.”
According to analytics from the NRL, Queensland averaged a 3.22-second play-the-ball, while NSW averaged 3.42 seconds.
Tedesco expects the Maroons to employ the same tactics for the game in Perth, with the Blues skipper stressing the importance of playing quicker at the ruck.
“We’re aware of it and they’re aware of it, too,” Tedesco said. “They’ll keep trying to slow it down because it helped them so much. It’s on us to create that [slow ruck speed] as a team.
“Queensland’s line was really pressuring us and the halves, and we were playing off those slow play-the-balls. It’s very hard to create something off the back of that.
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