TOUGH AS NAILS: New South Wales prop Robbie Kearns gets a pass away during the 2003 Origin series.
TOUGH AS NAILS: New South Wales prop Robbie Kearns gets a pass away during the 2003 Origin series. DAVE HUNT

Kearns yearns for old days

FORMER New South Wales hardman Robbie Kearns wants to see more old-school crash-and-bash in Origin II ... without the threat of the refs getting involved.

The tough-as-nails prop was left lamenting the "soft penalties" in Game I. In fact, he says, it was "killing" him having to watch it.

The one which riled the tough eight-game Origin front-rower most during Queensland's 6-4 victory was when Blues enforcer Paul Gallen was penalised for a high shot on Matt Scott.

Replays showed Gallen only got Scott around the shoulders, prompting even passionate Queenslander Paul Vautin to voice his concern about the ruling in commentary.

Contact with the head nowadays brings about an instant penalty but Kearns, who represented the Blues from 1998 to 2003, believes old-fashioned discretion should be used.

"Origin was built on toughness," Kearns told Australian Regional Media.

"If occasionally you come in contact with the head because your arm slips up or because he's bent over and if there's no malice or intent in that tackle, let it play on.

"If someone gets hit on the head nowadays they'll stay down knowing they'll get a penalty.

"That just kills me, being an old-time front-rower from way back."

Kearns said he believed the Blues were found wanting in Game I for not throwing the ball around enough in greasy conditions with its big, defence-oriented team.

"I reckon maybe we needed a little bit more ball movement instead of just taking one or two hit-ups," he said.

"If you watch the NRL week to week, second-phase football creates a lot of opportunity and it's something the New South Wales guys didn't do in Game I."

Kearns admitted the Blues have a steep mountain to climb as they try to square the series at the intimidating Suncorp Stadium.

"Leading into Game I, I said for New South Wales to be a chance we needed to win that game," he said.

"I thought playing in front of their home crowd after having their pants pulled down in Game III last year (losing 52-6) they had a lot to play for.

"They played strong in Game I and there was only a goal in it, but I truly believe it's going to be backs against the wall for Game II.

"It makes our mission of winning the series this year that much tougher going into Game II."



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