NRL’s chilling Origin promise comes true

Maroons and Titans prop Moeaki Fotuaika has been hit with a one-match ban for his late shot on Latrell Mitchell during Wednesday night’s State of Origin opener.

Fotuaika was one of three players — all Queenslanders — charged in Game I and the only one to face suspension.

Fotuaikia’s ban will likely move Jaimin Jolliffe into the Titans’ starting side to face the Roosters this weekend.

The prop’s suspension comes after the NRL warned that its divisive crackdown on illegal contact would not be lifted for the 2021 Origin series.

“Nothing is changing for the State of Origin. The State of Origin is in many ways our showcase event of the year,” the NRL’s head of football Graham Annesley said in May.

“No one would like to see the Origin series go through without any incidents more than me, so players have still got a little bit more time to adjust.

“We’ve got a responsibility to our players in what is the most physical, the fastest, the most intense level of our game that can be played.”

Fotuaika ran for the most metres of any Maroons forward in Origin I. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)Source:Getty Images

Introduced in Magic Round last month, the NRL’s crackdown on illegal contact has seen record numbers of players both sin-binned during games and punished by the Match Review Committee after them.

Josh Papalii, Angus Crichton and Victor Radley were among the players considered locks for Origin spots who found themselves ineligible for Game I due to the crackdown’s suspensions.

Despite his late shot on Mitchell, Fotuaika was one of the best in a Maroons side that was comprehensively beaten on Wednesday night.

In the first ever Origin game held in Townsville, the men from south of the Tweed outpaced, outmuscled and outclassed the home side, chalking up a record 50-6 win.

Only Kurt Capewell managed to cross the stripe for the Maroons, while Tom Trbojevic became the first ever Blue to score multiple State of Origin hat-tricks.

Latrell Mitchell and Brian To’o each bagged try-scoring doubles, both beneficiaries of excellent service from Blues halves Jarome Luai and Nathan Cleary.

The Maroons will look to even the ledger in Game II, which is set to take place at Suncorp Stadium on June 27.

It will be the first time in State of Origin history that two consecutive games have been held in the same state.

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