McGuire’s vile Fergo sledge sparked tunnel fight
MAROONS enforcer Josh McGuire launched a verbal tirade at NSW winger Blake Ferguson that was considered so vile that David Klemmer confronted him in a fiery push-and-shove in the tunnel at half-time of Wednesday night's State of Origin decider.
Blues players and officials are filthy at McGuire over the vicious sledge but remained tight-lipped about its content for fears of upsetting Ferguson if it became public.
Ferguson tried to play it down after the match, but take it as read that they won't soon forget McGuire's antics.
"I didn't really hear it to be honest," Ferguson said. "It was a little bit of yapping in my ear."
The pair came together close to halftime as NSW winger Tom Trbojevic got in the middle of it and kept McGuire at arm's length. But that didn't stop the Maroons' lock continuing with his spray as Ferguson showed great restraint by refusing to bite as the players walked from the field.
But Klemmer, wasn't having a bar of it, even though he was on the interchange bench when the halftime siren sounded.
He made a beeline for McGuire and the pair walked shoulder to shoulder well into the tunnel as the players made their way into their respective dressing sheds.
It is understood Klemmer told McGuire to back off in no uncertain terms as he continued to rip into Ferguson.
McGuire has long been public enemy No.1 for Blues players.
He looked like might have got the last laugh when he scored an important late try but Ferguson came up with the big play to send James Tedesco over for the match-winner in the final minute.
Ferguson and McGuire exchanged barbs again at full-time. This time, though, the Blues winger didn't hold back, telling the Cowboys forward words to the effect of "don't you ever say that shit again or I will f...ing drop ya."
North Queensland don't play Parramatta again this season, but book a spot in front of the TV for round 22 when Klemmer's Knights host McGuire's Cowboys in Newcastle on August 17.
MAROONS AND THE FAT MAN
Could Paul Vautin be the next coach of the Maroons? Vautin has put his hand up to again lead Queensland should Kevin Walters stand down from his role and link with the Gold Coast Titans.
The Queensland legend made the comments on ABC Grandstand last week but we touched based with him again this week to see if he would be keen to return as Maroons coach.
"If I'm needed I would do it," Vautin told us. "There are plenty more-credentialed coaches than me.
"It's been a long time for me. If they are desperate I'd come to the fore."
It would set up a remarkable return for Vautin, who famously led the Maroons to a 3-0 series win in 1995. He last coached them in 1997 but did make an inquiry about returning to the role before Walters was appointed. Vautin told Queensland hierarchy he was keen, only to be informed they were going to announce Walters within hours.
Wayne Bennett has also put himself in the frame for a Maroons return while Walters indicated on Wednesday night he was keen to go see out the final year of his Queensland deal.
SHOOSH: Which NRL player left a team's WhatsApp group after being upset by a teammate's comments?
SHOOSH II: Which representative player is set to make his mark on a reality TV show?
SHOOSH III: Which player's representative bonus has caused his club some headaches for next year's salary cap? The club weren't budgeting for his Origin selection.
SPOTTED: Australian cricketer Chris Lynn in the Maroons sheds.
LEEDS LEGEND'S WAIT
Englishman Kallum Watkins has arrived on the Gold Coast but his debut for the Titans has been delayed by at least one week. The Leeds veteran has an ongoing knee problem but it isn't expected to keep him sideline for too long. He also needs to obtain the correct visa before he can play.
State of Origin ratings were down one per cent on last year's series, an alarming fact considering the game's income is so heavily tied into the broadcast deal.
While the difference looks minimal at first - the three games this season averaged 2,060,000, compared to 2,081,000 last year - this year's series benefited with a Game III decider absent from last year's series.
Game III was up 13 per cent on last year's dead rubber, helping overall figures.
It is not just an NRL problem. Television numbers are down across the board as viewers are quickly changing their viewing habits.
It is too early to tell what it means for the next broadcast deal, which affects the salary cap.