Origin Real or Not: The referee cost the Blues a win

This week we take a look back at the opening State of Origin clash, won brilliantly by a Queensland team inspired by new coach Billy Slater and playing with the kind of Maroons spirit that has long made this such a fierce contest.

We tackle some of the big talking points in the latest edition of NRL Real or Not.

The referee's blind eye to ruck speed cost the Blues a win

NOT REAL: During the post game media conference, Blues coach Brad Fittler was particularly upset about the speed of the ruck, suggesting that Queensland got away with slowing NSW down by holding on too long in tackles. He blamed referee Ashley Klein for his reluctance to penalise the Maroons. Fittler wasn't saying that the teams were being held to differing standards, just that the Blues attack was stifled by the ploy.

"They won the ruck. They did a really good job there," Fittler said. "They held on and Ashley didn't want to give penalties away."

"We should have done a better job. We should have held them down longer - simple."

So, Queensland scored more points because the Blues players weren't slowing down the ruck enough? Anyone who has ever watched a game of rugby league soon realises that players do everything they can get away with in order to gain an advantage. Laying in the ruck until the referee is screaming at them to get up, always pushing the boundaries as far as possible. Did Fittler coach this out his players in order to ensure an entertaining, quick-paced game?

You need to look at the Panthers to see the real issue here. Penrith have proven to be just about unbeatable over the past couple of years on the back of a dominant pack, exploiting the six again rule changes, which were designed to speed up play. Fittler's frustration can be better traced to the inability of Nathan Cleary and Jarome Luai to adapt their games to what was happening on the field. Deprived of a back-peddling defensive line and the additional time to develop and implement plays, the Panthers pair failed to fire. Cleary even struggled to employ an effective kicking game, as time and again the Maroons were all over him like a cheap suit.

Queensland won the ruck, not only because of Klein's lenience, but because the Blues forwards were ineffective.

It would have been much more dignified and productive for Fittler to admit his side had been outplayed. He needs to sort out his halves and the forwards they play behind before Perth, or the shield will once again be heading north.

Going dry has helped make Munster unstoppable

REAL: Following what was his greatest performance in a Queensland jersey, Cameron Munster gave a lot of credit to the fact that he had given up alcohol, following an infamous offseason incident involving a mysterious white powder.

"Not drinking, being fitter (means I'm) a little more present in games and training," Munster said after the game.

Munster completely controlled the Origin clash, a performance being compared to those of Maroons legend Wally Lewis at his best. And the new Munster has been turning heads at club level as well, with Storm coach Craig Bellamy enthusiastic about his turnaround earlier this year.

"He's still got that lovable larrikin about him and he's still a lot of fun at training, but what he went through last year and going into rehab is probably the best thing that's ever happened to him," said Bellamy.

"Him and his lovely wife, Bianca, have had a baby as well, so with all due respect I think he's grown up about 10 years in the last six months."

There comes a time in every young man's life when responsibility kicks in and the rampant partying comes to an end. Someone with the natural talents of Munster really owes it to himself to make the most of his gifts. This season he has laid claim to being the game's premier playmaker and has set himself and his young family up for a bright future, with his next contract currently up for negotiation. Whether he stays with the Storm or takes up an offer elsewhere -- he is a top target of Wayne Bennett and the Dolphins -- Munster looks set to shine for his club, state and country for the foreseeable future.

"It's been easy, it doesn't faze me ... I haven't had an urge or feel like I'm missing out," Munster said of his first dry Origin camp.

"I'm still enjoying my life and the good times without it.

"Although when Alfie (Langer) gets a couple of drinks in him he wants his little buddy back ... but the boys respect that I want be to playing my best footy."

I'll drink to that.

Yeo was fine to play on after early knock

NOT REAL: Whether you miss the old rough and tumble of the game, whether you believe Origin should have a higher physical standard than club football, even if you believe a player is the best judge of his own health, Blues forward Isaah Yeo simply had to be taken from the field after the opening tackle of Origin I. Yeo fell to his back after running into Maroons prop Josh Papalii, with his arms momentarily in the telltale locked position. He quickly regained his feet, but staggered on his way back to the defensive line, where teammate Tariq Sims reached out to steady him.

Medical evidence has mounted over the last decade, telling a sorry story of the long-term damage concussions can have on an athlete. Sports across the globe have taken steps to protect athletes as best they can and rugby league, possibly the most physically brutal of all contact sports, has been no exception. The league has introduced protocols which require players to be fully assessed at the first sign of a potential concussion.

There have been several reasons given as to why Yeo was allowed to play on. The league's independent doctor classed the symptoms as a category three, allowing Yeo to stay on the field after only an on-field check, which the Blues trainer carried out. The doctor, it seems, was not shown the appropriate replays. Yeo himself has claimed that he was just momentarily stunned.

"I felt fine," Yeo said after the game.

"I remember everything, I've been knocked out and it definitely wasn't that. I just lost a bit of balance.

"Just the contact, I reeled out of it and I was just trying to get my footing to get back in the line."

League officials have said Yeo was also assessed at halftime and fulltime and was cleared of concussion. For the health of all players and consistency of the protocols, he should have been taken from the field and assessed immediately after the clash.