NSW prop Andrew Fifita wasn’t aware of plans to start him on the bench in the State of Origin decider, according to Cronulla teammate Luke Lewis.
The experienced Lewis and club captain Paul Gallen spoke to Fifita on Tuesday about reports the wrecking ball reacted angrily towards Blues coach Laurie Daley after learning he wasn’t going to start in game three.
NSW adviser Peter Sterling confirmed coaching staff planned for bench forward David Klemmer to start ahead of Fifita.
But Lewis told Fox Sports’ NRL 360 there was no “blow up” from Fifita.
“We pulled Fifita aside just to see how he was travelling and where he was at,” Lewis said.
“He was up-front and honest, he goes ‘mate, I didn’t have a blow up with Laurie Daley at all’.
“He didn’t get told anything about going to the bench and that was it.
“Everything that’s come out has been blown out of proportion.
“I don’t think that everything that’s been said and has been written is true and I do believe Andrew Fifita is telling the truth.”
NSW backflipped on the plan, starting Fifita and playing Klemmer off the bench.
Fifita wasn’t alone in playing poorly in the Blues’ 22-6 defeat by Queensland, while Klemmer was one of few shining lights.
Klemmer’s club captain James Graham said the Canterbury prop’s Origin III performance showed he was willing to take a perceived backwards step for the good of the team.
“He was one of New South Wales’ best on Wednesday night,” Graham said.
“He certainly didn’t let it affect him and I think that’s really important.”