'I don’t think I’ve ever been in a game with such a lopsided penalty count but it shows how good this team is'
Skipper Cameron Smith has heaped praise on his XXXX Maroons for coming within a whisker of winning Origin Game III in Sydney last night despite a horribly lopsided penalty count and controversial refereeing.
“It was a magnificent effort. Playing with 12 men in the first half (after Cooper Cronk was binned), we didn’t allow the Blues to score a point. It was a huge effort.
“To be in it at the end with two minutes to go, being in front, was amazing.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been in a game with such a lopsided penalty count but it shows how good this team is, to be still involved in that game and have a chance at winning,” said Smith, who won the Wally Lewis Medal as player of the series.
At one stage the penalty count blew out to 9-1 against the Maroons.
“It was frustrating given the amount of effort we were putting in,” Smith told QRL TV's Peter Psaltis after the 18-14 loss.
“I was a bit confused by it all.”
Two out of three ain't bad
He said the Maroons were consoling themselves with yet another series win - the 10th in 11 series.
‘It was not our night tonight. We didn’t get the result but we’ve won this series and we are very pleased about that.
“We had an opportunity to win it, just over two minutes to go, there was a scrum down their end and I thought we had it but they came up with a few special plays in the last minute to get it and they won, so congratulations to them.”
Top player gong
Smith said receiving his player of the series medal from Wally Lewis was a thrill.
‘It’s always a very proud moment to be voted the Wally Lewis Medallist and to receive it off the greatest Origin player that’s ever lived, it’s a very, very humbling moment.
“But I’ve said it a couple of times tonight, it could have gone to several different people across our team and maybe even a couple of Blues to be honest - they played well also.”
The skipper said it was good to take the series in a year of milestones, including:
- Greg Inglis played his 30th Origin last night and Corey Parker his last.
- Matt Scott played his 20th this series and Nate Myles his 30th.
- Smith overtook Darren Lockyer as the most-capped Maroon this year and now sits three ahead on 39, while Gavin Cooper debuted last night - the Cowboy turns 31 next month and has notched 223 NRL games.
‘That’s a long time for a guy to wait to get his debut in Origin. I thought he was great tonight,” Smith said of Cooper.
“It’s a little bit disappointing we couldn’t get the whitewash tonight and send Corey off as a winner in his last game of Origin.
“But he’s very happy with the series win, as we all are.”
Champion blokes too
Smith thanked QRL website readers and viewers for their support and spoke of his pride at leading the Maroons.
“They are all terrific footballers but, I think more importantly, they are all great people, all great men.”