Blues getting around Suaalii: Madge


Westpac NSW Blues coach Michael Maguire says his team will rally around centre Joseph-Aukuso Suaalii with the focus now shifting to Game Two of the Ampol State of Origin series at the world-famous MCG in Melbourne on Wednesday 26 June.

Suaalii was sent off in the seventh minute of the 38-10 loss to Queensland last night, after a collision with Maroons fullback Reece Walsh. He has been charged with a grade two reckless high tackle.

“Everyone is going to have an opinion on it, it’s an Origin game,” Maguire said.

“Reece was falling there, that’s just my opinion … you could look at it many ways.

“It is what it is and now we’ll move on. I saw a lot of signs in the team of how we want to play.

“The way they fought in periods through the game. Unfortunately, when you’re defending with 12 men there will be spaces.

“At times there we were in complete control, and I thought we were coming (back) especially through that second half.

“There was plenty of fight there and that’s what the boys have spoken about, what we’ve got to hang onto moving forward.”

Maguire said he had spoken with Suaalii, 20, and the team was supporting him.

“He’s a young player and he was just trying, he was out there trying… he’s a really good human being so we’ll look after him,” Maguire said. “He was feeling pretty rough after the game as you’d expect.

“He was just going out to make a tackle and Reece was slipping underneath as Joe was coming down over him.

“It was just an unfortunate tackle.”

Suaalii took to social media last night to express his disappointment saying: "Disappointed let my brothers, fam n (sic) state down. Blessed and honoured to put the blue jersey on"

This morning Suaalii spoke to media as he left the Blues hotel saying that everyone in the NSW team had offered their support.

"Every single person in the team and the staff ... we’ve created that brotherhood and it definitely showed today," Suaalii said.

"I didn’t mean it at all. I just went there to tackle him and I clipped his head.

"I hope he’s doing alright … I haven’t reached out yet (to him) but it’s something I’ll do."

Maguire will also be speaking with each member of the Blues team about last night's game.

“I’ll get around to all the players today and talk about their experiences and what they felt out there,” he said.

“When you’re playing a game with 12 men, that shifts a little bit and different pressures come at you.

“We planned for everything, but we didn’t plan on losing a player for as long as we did.

“Queensland manoeuvred well. They were smart enough to adjust to where our players weren’t.”

He praised Stephen Crichton and Angus Crichton after they switched positions to cover for Suaalii, along with the hard work done by middles such as hooker Reece Robson, who topped the tackle count of either side with 50.

“Reece Robson was outstanding there in the middle, the amount of work he got through,” Maguire said. “He saved a try and Liam Martin, Angus Crichton were all out there having a crack.

“But 15 minutes to go and we felt the pinch when they scored that runaway try. We were coming so there were good signs there.”

Now it is onto Melbourne for Game Two.

“We faced adversity and it’s what we do now …  it’s part of what makes us NSW,” Maguire said.

“We’ll get the group back together again and talk about how we go about the next one. It’s a strong group with a lot of spirit.

“It’s all about what we can do in this jersey.”

As for repeated comments that Origin means more to a Queenslander, Maguire was resolute in his reply.

“You know from sitting in this role, that is a load of garbage … utter garbage,” he said.

“What I saw and have seen over the last 10 days watching player and fans … we’ll just work hard for the next game.

“I saw what it means to everyone in NSW. There’s probably a lot of people waking up this morning disappointed.

“But the players feel every bit of that too. They walked into the change room absolutely gutted.

“We’ll get together again, regroup, and show everyone what this team is made of.”