Liam Martin has been dubbed by Queensland media as New South Wales’ “villain” after four moments in Origin I were identified where the Panthers star produced “feral plays.”
The Courier Mail has pinpointed the four incidents that took place in the space of four minutes in the series opener at Accor Stadium — and declared “Queensland finally has a new Blues player to hate” after he went on a “grubby rampage.”
Those incidents were a swinging arm to the back of Cameron Munster’s head (64th minute), a forearm to Dane Gagai’s throat (65th minute), rubbing his head in Kurt Capewell’s face (67th minute) and digging his elbow into Munster’s ribs (68th minute) ).
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The incidents — and the story — were put to Queensland hooker Harry Grant during a live cross on NRL 360. However Grant knew nothing about it.
“I don’t actually know what you’re talking about,” he said.
“I thought the grubbiest player just had to be Tino Fa’asuamaleaui because he never showers… but I’m not sure, I haven’t really seen any of that or looked into it.
“But you know what it’s like, it’s origin footy, it’s a lot more physical and faster than NRL and everyone goes up a level.”
Asked if there had been any talk in Queensland camp about “fighting fire with fire,” Grant said “Nah, not at all.”
The Courier Mail quizzed Capewell, who won the 2021 premiership alongside Martin at the Panthers, on Martin’s tactics but he didn’t bite.
“There is always a little bit of that niggle between players,” Capewell said.
“It’s something that makes Origin so good. It’s a game full of passion and ‘Marto’ has definitely got that in his game.
“He is definitely aggressive and a powerful player who can be hard to handle at times.
“Me and Marto get along really well. It’s always good to have a bit of a duel with one of your mates.
“I’ll be looking forward to that in game two. I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
Maroons skipper Daly Cherry-Evans was also all class when asked about the Blues second-rower.
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“We’re aware of how much of an influence he can have on the game,”
“Defensively, he gets stuck in and isn’t afraid to rough you up.
“That Panthers system has created a really hardworking mentality, in particular for the back-rowers, whether it’s (Viliame) Kikau or Liam Martin coming to get you, they do a lot of work from the inside and Martin brings a lot of those traits to the NSW team.
“Liam gets through a lot of work and he is such a determined player. He never wants to let his teammates down, he gets stuck in and it’s really clear in his playing style.
“He makes a hell of a lot of tackles and he is always running nice and directly straight at the halves. For the smaller guys, he is hard to stop.”
Vision of the incidents were shown on NRL 360 and Braith Anasta believes there was nothing wrong with Martin’s physicality.
“This is what you want in Origin… Liam was doing his job here,” he said.
“100 per cent,” News Corp journalist Paul Kent responded.
“I’d like to see NSW come back tomorrow with their own dirt file on Queensland
“I actually quite like this. I think it’s good, it’s quite spicy for the Origin build up. I think game one we were lacking a little bit.
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“There’s clearly been talking from somewhere up there about this.
“We all know how newspapers work, they’re not just thought up in editorial rooms these sort of things — they generally came from someone that’s been involved with cutting vision.
“I thought Liam Martin was terrific in game one and I think he brought some of the physicality that NSW really need — and he needs to do it again.”
Paul Crawley suggested perhaps the incidents were sent to the media by Maroons in a bid to deflect from what they were planning on doing in game two.
“Often these stories are just about hiding the real story,” he said.
“When a team leaks this sort of stuff it’s probably to mask something they’re up to.”