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Angus Crichton has vowed not to take a backward step in Origin II as Maroons captain Daly Cherry-Evans refused to respond to claims he performed a “cheap shot” on the Blues forward during the series opener.

The NSW camp were angered by suggested from Queensland that Reece Walsh had been knocked out in a high tackle by Joseph Sua’ali’i in Origin I after a deliberate campaign to target the star fullback.

Blues coach Michael Maguire accused the Maroons of double standards at the start of his team's camp for the must win MCG clash and Channel 9 unearthed video footage of Cherry-Evans appearing to head slam and knee Crichton.

The incident occurred in the 57th minute after Crichton lost the ball near the NSW tryline, and as he lay on his back Cherry-Evans pushed down on the NSW second-rower’s head before falling into him with his knees.

Angus Crichton and Daly Cherry-Evans were engaged in a running battle during Origin I.
Angus Crichton and Daly Cherry-Evans were engaged in a running battle during Origin I. ©Gregg Porteous/NRL Photos

Crichton told he was aware of the incident and said he would take matters into his own hands if it occurred again.

“I should have got up and reacted,” Crichton said. “When I watched the game back I regretted not getting in his face there, but I’ll save it for Game II.

“That’s life but we will get on with it and get a win in Melbourne.”

Blues great Andrew Johns was first shown the incident on 100% Footy and suggested Cherry-Evans would not have got away with his actions before punching was outlawed after the opening match of the 2013 series.

Johns again raised the incident on the Sunday Footy Show, and encouraged Crichton to respond.

“I actually saw a clip of a bit of cheap shot from Daly,” Johns said. “He got Angus on the ground, so Angus don’t cop that mate.”

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Asked about the incident and Johns’ comments at a joint press conference with the rival captains and coaches, Cherry-Evans said he was ignoring outside distractions.

“It’s the first I’ve heard of it, only because this time of year it’s honestly not in my best interests to be watching what you guys talk about,” Cherry-Evans said.

“I don’t mean that out of disrespect, there’s obviously a job for you guys to do to create hype and excitement around our game.

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“For me to play my best and to stay focused about the things I can control it’s best to not go into those things.

“I really don’t have a great understanding about what has been said this week, I’m just excited about going out there and playing.”

The tension between the two teams was obvious at the Fed Square press conference after Maguire last week hit back at the Maroons.

“You’ve got to make sure you don’t live in glass houses, that’s all I’ll say,” he said.

Slater said he didn’t believe the comment was directed at him, but Maguire refused to say whether it was or not.

“I’ll let you decide who it was about,” Maguire said. “I guess one thing I do is I look after my players, that’s where it was focused.”

Asked if the Blues again plan to target Walsh, who was the subject of a heavy shot from NSW forward Liam Martin as he kicked at the end of Queensland's opening set of tackles and then hit high by Sua'ali'i, Maguire said: "We put a lot of focus on all their players, so it's not an individual".

Sua'ali'i sent off

"We've had a really good preparation actually. I've really enjoyed obviously coaching the boys and I've got a great group of men, actually, with the way they've gone about the week," Maguire said.

"Like most games, you focus on yourselves, but you're aware of what the opposition do, and you've got to shut that down, so we, across the team, have made sure that we're ready to go."

Slater insisted that Walsh was also ready to play after seeing just eight minutes of action in Origin I at Accor Stadium.

Reece Walsh has trained strongly for the Maroons and is ready to play at the MCG
Reece Walsh has trained strongly for the Maroons and is ready to play at the MCG ©Chloe Davis/NRL Photos

"He's been incredible all week, like he was incredible in his preparation for Game I. He started the game really well in Game I and I expect no different.

"I love the way that he plays, I love the attributes that he has in his game, and I love the way that he works hard to go after it.

"It's been a pleasure to help him do that this week and I'm looking forward to him getting his game on tomorrow night.

"Everyone sees the bright and shiny stuff that Reece brings to a footy field and, and that's what people gravitate to our game for, but he's a really hard worker.

"He's a respectful young man, he wants to be as good as he possibly can, and he wants to play our game. How good's that.

"I've got a lot of time for him and I'm just really looking forward to him playing his part in our team."


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