Thurston blasts Queensland for playing ‘dumb footy’
JOHNATHAN Thurston had his Andrew Johns moment.
Just as the ex-NSW halfback did last year, the retired Queensland playmaker took aim at his former side for playing "dumb footy" when the situation called for calm heads.
Johns made headlines when he slammed the Blues for failing to target an injured Thurston in defence in Game 2 last year but this time it was the North Queensland No. 7's turn to vent at some inexplicable decision making from his former teammates - and he wasn't the only one.
They slumped to an 18-14 loss in Origin II in Sydney on Sunday night to go down 2-0 in the series and sacrifice the interstate shield for just the second time in 13 years, but it could have been so different.
When NSW centre James Roberts was sin-binned with the Blues up by four points and a tick over 10 minutes left on the clock, supporters south of the border were groaning - they'd seen this movie before.
Comeback kings Queensland had so often haunted NSW at the death and with only 12 men on the field the door was open for the Maroons to steal a win from under NSW's nose.
But the set following Roberts' departure saw Queensland halfback Ben Hunt kick on the third tackle and send the ball dead. It was the wrong play at the wrong time, and everyone knew it.
"Are you serious? Third tackle …" Channel 9 commentator Paul Vautin said.
"That kick from Ben Hunt at the other end of the field that put the ball dead on the third tackle could be the biggest play of the game," Peter Sterling added.
After full-time Thurston took aim at Queensland's playmakers for failing to make the most of the numerical advantage.
"I'm a little bit dumbfounded by the way the Queenslanders played with 12 men on the field," Thurston told Channel 9. "A centre going off for 10 minutes - I don't think they targeted that edge much.
"The first set that they had Ben Hunt kicks it dead (for a) 20m restart. That's a brain explosion on the third tackle."
Thurston also took aim at Will Chambers for giving away a penalty in that period, saying the final 10 minutes was soured by "dumb footy" from the Maroons as he criticised the spine.
"It's a massive learning curve for the halves and the hooker," Thurston said.
"I don't think that we targeted that edge enough tonight. Like I said, it's a massive learning curve for the boys."
Thurston wasn't the only member of the Maroons fraternity to criticise the side's game management when Roberts went off the field. Billy Slater said Queensland "didn't play real smart in that 10-minute period" and coach Coach Kevin Walters also lamented his troops' inability to seize the opportunity that was presented to them.
"We played a lot smarter, probably for 70 minutes of the game," Walters told Channel 9. "I am thinking (we needed to) attack where James Roberts should have been.
"We did a couple of times and didn't come up with anything too much.
"But as you know Origin is about persistence and staying at what you know is going to work and we seemed to go away from that in that period.
"That's probably what cost us in the end rather than anything that happened in the game."
Hunt in particular came in for some harsh treatment on social media.