A rivalry which has simmered for seven years erupted on the biggest stage, sparking the return of one of State of Origin’s great traditions — the biff.
A rivalry which has simmered for seven years erupted on the biggest stage, sparking the return of one of State of Origin’s great traditions — the biff.

The Origin brawl three years in making

Two near-120kg giants went toe-to-toe for the first time in an Origin match in seven years. Payne Haas and Tino Fa'asuamaleaui once traded barbs in an under-18s Origin game.

Three years on they threw it down again on rugby league's biggest stage, sparking an all-in melee and resulting in the pair being sin-binned.

It won't go down as one of the great Origin stinks but, midway through the second half, the crowd erupted with the biggest cheer of the night when the biff made its return.

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Seven years after Paul Gallen and Nate Myles stood face-to-face at the same ground which caused the punch to be outlawed from the game, two of the NRL's biggest players reignited some genuine Origin hostility.

It came just minutes after Gallen cried out for a return of physical combat in his new role as a sideline commentator.

Fists fly during State of Origin game two. Picture: Phil Hillyard.
Fists fly during State of Origin game two. Picture: Phil Hillyard.

Trent Merrin unsuccessfully tested the automatic sin bin rules by landing one on the chin of Brent Tate in the first Origin game after that 2013 clash between Gallen and Myles, this fight was the first real indiscretion since that series.

Haas and Fa'asuamaleaui lit a fuse for an instant Origin rivalry. They have less than a week before they square off again in the series decider.

It has also added spice to what will become a heated south-east Queensland derby between Brisbane and the Gold Coast next year when Fa'asuamaleaui joins the Titans.

NSW's Payne Haas sent to the sin bin. Picture: Brett Costello.
NSW's Payne Haas sent to the sin bin. Picture: Brett Costello.

Fa'asuamaleaui's manager this week claimed "he sat Haas on his arse" when the pair clashed as 18-year-olds.

There was no clear winner on Wednesday night, but round two threatened to kick off on the sideline.

Haas was sent from the field first, his jersey torn across his massive chest from when the pair had come together.

He actually waited for Fa'asuamaleaui to join him in the bin but was well off the field by the time referee Gerard Sutton gave the Maroons' lock his marching orders.

It came as no surprise that Blues interchange forward Nathan Brown initiated the original melee just minutes into his Origin debut, which eventuated in players coming together.

Sutton asked video referee Steve Chiddy if he should march any others before settling on the 118kg and 116kg forwards.

 

The drama came as Immortal Andrew Johns blasted Queensland's strange tactics which cost the Maroons two tries from scrums.

The Blues scored either side of halftime with a sweeping scrum play where the Maroons were caught short defensively. NSW set up four attackers on three defenders and it was the speed of the likes of Cody Walker and James Tedesco which carved the Maroons defensive line.

The numbering up of the Maroons defenders left Johns flabbergasted having watched Daniel Tupou and James Tedesco score.

"Four attackers and three defenders, it's like shelling peas," Johns said on Channel 9 after the Blues' second near identical try.

"It's too easy. I know they are worried about the next play having players in position to get set but why wouldn't they mark up and have four defenders?

"Surely you get there and change it. You just change it up."

 

Originally published as The Origin brawl three years in making


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