STATE OF ORIGIN FURORE:
Blues coach Brad Fittler has lashed out at Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, blaming her solely for the unexpected defeat by favourites New South Wales in last night’s State of Origin decider at Suncorp Stadium.
Fittler has revealed that the Blues side barely arrived at the ground in time for the game against the Queensland Maroons after “a series of horror flights clearly orchestrated by [Palaszczuk] ensured we arrived at the ground exhausted and unfit to play our best footie”.
Fittler said Queensland’s “skulduggery” began when the pilot of the Blues’ charted aircraft announced very early on Wednesday morning they would not be able to land directly into Brisbane because of ‘COVID-19 concerns over Sydney being a virus hotspot’.
“Brisbane air traffic control then diverted us to Auckland, New Zealand, where after that three-and-a-half hour trip, we sat on the tarmac for more than two hours,” Fittler said.
“We were then forced onto another aircraft – I believe it was a Fokker Friendship (pictured at top) – and the flight back to Australia was horrific and none of us got any shut-eye at all, especially as we returned to Brisbane via a stopover in Townsville to pick up Jonathan Thurston.
“He and a group of Maroons supporters were allocated all the seats and me and my entire squad had to stand in the aisle for the entire flight. The sledging was terrible.”
A spokesperson said the Queensland Premier made no apologies for keeping all Queenslanders safe in the age of the coronavirus epidemic.
“The Premier is offended by any suggestions that the flight changes were deliberately manipulated to harm the Blues’ chances last night.
“She has consistently followed her chief medical officer’s advice over COVID-19 and that advice was that the Blues team needed to quarantine in New Zealand for some hours.”
And in Sydney, former Blues captain Paul Gallen said the flights from Auckland to Townsville and then Townsville to Brisbane were the worst in Origin history.