Newcastle star Dane Gagai accepts he won’t be playing State of Origin for Queensland this year.
Queensland need a new winger, but it won’t be in-form Newcastle flyer Dane Gagai.
Back in January, Gagai failed to turn up for a training session at an emerging Maroons camp and coach Mal Meninga is sticking firm with his promise to take a hard line against the 23-year-old.
And Gagai is prepared to take his medicine despite the opportunities that have opened up this State of Origin series.
Queensland’s injury crisis before Game II resulted in Gagai’s name being mentioned for a reprieve and, with Brent Tate been ruled out for the season, he’s again been suggested as a potential replacement for the dead rubber at Suncorp Stadium.
But immediately after the classy Knights centre posted two tries against North Queensland in a drought-breaking win for Newcastle, coach Wayne Bennett poured cold water on Gagai’s claims.
“Gagai can’t play Origin this year. He had an indiscretion in a camp. He knows that and he won’t. And that’s the way it should be too,” Bennett said.
It’s a shame for Gagai who has shown in his first two full seasons of first grade that he’s capable of a big future at Origin level.
The timing would have been mutually beneficial for Queensland who, after their first series loss in nine years, need to start looking to the future.
But Gagai says he accepted Meninga’s stance from day one and is determined to put his head down and learn from his mistake so he can get a shot in the future.
“What was said just stays between us. I don’t really want to talk about it,” Gagai told AAP.
“I’m not even getting any thought of rep footy in my head.
“I had the hiccup earlier on in the year but that’s over and done with. We’ve all moved on from that.
“I’m going to learn from it because, if you don’t learn from it, you’re a bit of an idiot.
“It’s always going to be a dream to represent your state and country but at the moment … I’m just trying to be the best player I can be.”
With Gagai out of the running, Melbourne’s Will Chambers is favourite to earn a Queensland debut in place of Tate.