Queensland hits out at Channel 9 over Reece Walsh State of Origin ad

29/06/2024
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Queensland Rugby League Chairman called the decision inappropriate

Reece Walsh was victim of a horror tackle by Joseph-Aukuso Suaalii just seven minutes into State of Origin Game 1 in Sydney

News Insights

  • Controversial ad relates to Joseph-Aukuso Suaalii’s hit on Reece Walsh in Game 1.
  • The Suaalii tackle has tensions between Blues and Maroons at a fever point.
  • One of the nine ads Channel 9 released nine ahead of Origin II features Suaalii lining up to hit Walsh in Origin I.
  • Queensland Rugby League Chairman Bruce Hatcher called the ad “inappropriate.”

State of Origin broadcaster Channel 9 has come under fire by Queensland Rugby League officials and Maroons fans alike for deciding to use footage of Joseph-Aukuso Suaalii’s hit on Brisbane Broncos fullback Reece Walsh in Game 1 in their advertising for the upcoming Game 2 matchup at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.  

The controversial incident explained 

The heart of this scandal goes back to an incident just seven minutes into Game 1 of the 2024 State of Origin series at Accor Stadium on June 5 when New South Wales centre Joseph-Aukuso Suaalii speared Queensland’s Reece Walsh.  
 
The Maroons fullback was knocked unconscious and taken out of the match. Suaalii, meanwhile, was immediately sent off from the match, becoming just the sixth player to be sent off in State of Origin history and the fastest of those six to be sent off.  
 
Suaalii, who was making his Blues’ debut, was taunted by Maroons assistant Nate Myles as he left the pitch. The coach reportedly spat at the centre “I hope you enjoyed your debut.” Myles was issued a warning relating to the encounter.  
 
In the leadup to Game 2, this incident continued to spark fierce comments from coaching staff. Blues boss Michael Maguire accused Queensland of throwing stones from “glass houses” after prominent Maroons’ legends speculated that Maguire sent his side out to target Walsh.  
 
For his part, Billy Slater refused to be drawn into a spat with Maguire, saying that he “didn’t understand” the Blues head coach’s “glass houses” comment.  

Queensland officials respond to Channel 9 ad 

While Slater tried to cool the mood following Maguire’s comment, there’s no question that the Suaalii tackle has tensions between Blues and Maroons at a fever point. Channel 9 decided to take advantage of that fact by using the Suaalii tackle to promote State of Origin Game 2. 
 
One of the nine ads Channel 9 released nine ahead of Origin II features Suaalii lining up to hit Walsh in Origin I. The footage cuts to another bit of action before the actual point of impact, but Queensland officials were upset nonetheless. 
 
Queensland Rugby League Chairman Bruce Hatcher called the ad “inappropriate.” 

Hatcher told SMH that: “I think it’s inappropriate and totally wrong. There were plenty of other tackles they could have used 
 
“I hated that photo on the front page of the (Daily Telegraph) the next day with Reece’s eyes rolled to the back of his head. 
 
“The players are bigger, faster and tougher … they hit with a whole heap of force now, so I would err on the side of conservatism rather than (promoting) the gung-ho stuff. 
 
“I think Reece is a sensational talent. He’s a very different individual, but if we condone any action that takes those sort of people out of the game, then I think the game is a shocking loser.” 

2024 State of Origin Game 2 kicks off at 8:05 PM at Melbourne Cricket Ground on 26 June. Based on the pre-match controversies and lingering tension from Game 1, this match could be a testy one. According to the betting sites, the Blues are slight favourites to come out on top. 

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