State of Origin 2017: Kevin Walters slams NSW for attempts to influence referees

Just as everything goes on the line, the niceties are over.

After weeks of banter that has been more mate than hate, Queensland coach Kevin Walters used his pre-game media conference to label counterpart Laurie Daley's attempts to influence the referees against the "spirit of the game".

While there can be no complaints about the standard of Origin I, this series has been timid from a promotional sense.

Queensland coach Kevin Walters (left) and his NSW counterpart Laurie Daley. Photos: Getty Images

Queensland coach Kevin Walters (left) and his NSW counterpart Laurie Daley. Photos: Getty Images

Both teams have been at pains not to provide each other with ammunition, with Boyd Cordner even apologising for not being as provocative as previous Blues skipper Paul Gallen.

Walters and Daley, whether it be sitting together on NRL 360 or through any of their other public utterances, have dodged controversy at every turn.

But that changed when Walters was asked whether Origin II would become Wrestlemania as the Maroons sought to slow down the Blues play-the-balls.

Speaking just hours after Daley rubbished suggestions Walters was under pressure, the latter had a crack at his former Raiders teammate ahead of a match that could shape both their careers.

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"I am a bit disappointed with Laurie and the NSW players over that," Walters said of Daley's public statements of his hopes for a fast and open Origin II.

"Last time we were here the penalty count was 12-4 and at half-time 11-1 to NSW. I just don't think it is in the right spirit of the game to try and use referees to influence the game.

"We have a lot of respect for referees. I was taught from a young age to respect whoever is controlling the game.

"I have a lot of respect for Gerard [Sutton] and Matt [Cecchin], on what they did in game one, I think everyone will agree it was one of the greatest origins of all time.

"I just don't see why NSW and Laurie want to put the pressure on the referees when they shouldn't be doing that, it is up to the referees to police the game, we will play the football the referees allow us to play."

Pressed on whether the game would descend into Wrestlemania, Walters replied: "I haven't seen Hulk Hogan around.

"We are going to play football, that's what we do best. We won't be wrestling, we will be playing football."

Queensland won their opening series under Walters but expectations are high after predecessor Mal Meninga won 10 of 11 on his watch.

"We understand what happened previously at this level is a once in a lifetime event," Walters said.

"I remember way back when it first started with Mal, winning one game was a big challenge, winning a series was a great achievement.

"We are still in the ball game, we are confident we will put in a good performance that will keep us alive."

Asked if he was tempering expectations of further Origin dynasties, he replied: "I think Queenslanders love their Origin.

"I am not saying anything is over at the moment. Queensland loves winning Origin games, that's what tomorrow night is all about, getting that elusive win."

The Maroons struggled to contain Andrew Fifita and James Tedesco in the opening encounter, but Walters said no Blues player has been singled out in the lead-up.

"We've got a lot of respect for how they go about their business, NSW," he said.

"We've fixed up some areas, [Tedesco] was obviously a key player for them in game one, he ran over 200 metres and was defensively very good for them as well.

"We can't do much to control what he's doing but we can certainly control a lot more how we handle things.

"It's fair to say in our meetings we've been across all 17 NSW players. You don't win a game with two players and NSW showed that in game one, they had 17 very good players.

"Our major concern is us, we think we can fix up a few little areas that we were inefficient in and give ourselves every chance for a really good performance."