COFFS HARBOUR - James Tamou has hit back at claims NSW players have used cheap shots against Queensland to win the State of Origin series.
The Blues head to Brisbane on Sunday from their Coffs Harbour base fully expecting a backlash in game three on Wednesday night from a wounded Maroons side who are reeling from losing their first series since 2005.
However, North Queensland prop Tamou said his team had battled to restrain themselves and it was his Cowboys teammate Johnathan Thurston who started the bad feeling that broke out between the teams in game two at ANZ Stadium.
"We're just pushing back what they have started," Tamou said.
"I have seen a lot of footage in the past where Queensland players have done something here and there to myself and other New South Welshmen out there on the field.
"We saw an example in game two where we saw Thurston throw one of the first punches in a niggly way when he slapped Beau Scott in the face.
"Small things like that mean we've really had to push back (from reacting) and that is why we have won the series."
The NRL banned players from striking after game one last year when Blues skipper Paul Gallen punched Nate Myles.
Tamou said both sets of players had struggled to maintain their cool during this year's series and he said it was only a matter of time until someone snapped.
"They'll really push the point where one of our guys will really clinch a fist and want to throw one," he said.
"That's how they get under your skin. I've really had to restrain myself and it's not just me."