STATE OF ORIGIN: NSW forward Liam Martin vows to not change their targeting of Reece Walsh

Scott Bailey and George Clarke
Joseph Sua’ali’i’s State of Origin debut for NSW lasted only eight minutes of Game I.

NSW have vowed to go after Reece Walsh and not ease up on the Queensland State of Origin star, with Liam Martin declaring physicality is simply part of football.

Knocked out by Joseph-Aukuso Suaalii’s illegal high shot just seven minutes into Origin I, Walsh will play his first game in three weeks at the MCG next Wednesday.

Several Maroons figures have since insinuated that the Blues went after Walsh, with little regard for his safety.

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That prompted Blues coach Michael Maguire to fire a shot back at Queensland on Monday, accusing Queensland of living in glass houses.

Regardless, NSW say they won’t change a thing going into Game II.

Walsh was hit hard by NSW’s chief antagonist Martin following the first kick of the game in Origin I, before being floored by Suaalii’s hit six minutes later.

And while they are adamant there was no intention to maim Walsh in Sydney, Martin says Queensland’s grumblings won’t change the way he or the Blues play.

“I treat it the exact same. It doesn’t change,” Martin said.

“He’s such a key for them so we’ll be going after him. We’re obviously not intentionally going there to hurt or injure him.

“It’s part of the game. Nothing will change.”

Martin said it was a fine balance between trying to pressure Walsh when he went to the line or kicked, and actually injuring him.

“It is a fine line because it’s a game of the barest margins,” Martin said.

“If someone falls and you clip them high, otherwise it would’ve been a good shot.

“You try to be physical and, while accidents happen, you just try your best to not put yourself and others in those situations.

“I definitely wasn’t out there to hurt him (with my kick pressure) or anything like that. It’s just footy and you try to be physical.”

Martin said he hadn’t paid any attention to the claims the Blues had gone too hard on Walsh, or Brisbane coach Kevin Walters’ calls for the NRL to protect him better.

“I’m sure they’re going after a few of our boys like we’re going after some of theirs,” Martin said.

“It’s just footy ... I hope he (Walsh) pulled up alright.”

NSW second-rower Angus Crichton also rejected Queensland’s claims on Tuesday, and made a point to defend his Sydney Roosters teammate Suaalii.

“You’ve got to pressure anyone. It’s wild that everyone’s trying to say that we were trying to injure him,” Crichton said.

“It was a split decision that Joey got wrong, I hope Reece has recovered well.

“That’s the sport, everyone has game plans where they figure out where they want to attack.”


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