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‘It’s over the top’: The four words banned from Maroons camp

Time to roll out that most apt rugby league cliche:

It’s mate versus mate, state versus state.

Both squads have been named and paraded in front of the nation’s media but it’s now business time.

Origin camps can get a little weird these days. We’ve all seen photos of Freddy Fittler’s mob wandering barefoot through the grass in an act known as ‘Earthing’ which, supposedly, allows the body to absorb the soils life-sustaining minerals.

It’s gotten funky north of the Tweed too after Queensland coach Kevin Walters banned the use of four little words from anybody attached to the Maroons:

New, South, Wales, and Blues.

They’re banned, off-limits, not to be uttered or even imagined.

“They should just worry about their footy,” Ox laughs.

“As a Queenslander, I’m embarrassed! He couldn’t even say New South Wales!

“That’s over the top.”

The word ban led to a bizarre exchange between a reporter and Maroons debutant Joe Ofahengaue, who couldn’t give a straight answer when asked who he was playing.

“Oh, I think we’re playing the other side,” Ofahengaue sheepishly answered.

Maybe it’s a bit of fun, some pre-origin theatre and gamesmanship.

Or perhaps, like in Harry Potter, those who refuse to say He Who Must Not Be Named do so out of fear.

Click PLAY to hear more from David ‘Ox’ Schwarz and Matt Granland: