Surely Fifita is a greater threat to Queensland than the media

Spread the word: Queensland debutant Coen Hess is on an interview media ban before State of Origin game two in Sydney on Wednesday. Picture: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images
Spread the word: Queensland debutant Coen Hess is on an interview media ban before State of Origin game two in Sydney on Wednesday. Picture: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

JAI Field had played 11 minutes in the NRL when he revealed his ambition to play fullback for the Dragons. 

This was all well before Josh Dugan had signed for the Sharks, amid the ‘what’s he worth?’ ‘where should he play?” saga. 

But it was after Ben Hunt had announced he was moving from Brisbane to Wollongong, meaning, barring injury, the door to playing in the halves had slammed shut.

“I’ve played a lot of fullback growing up,” he said, replying to my question about playing fullback if (when) Dugan left. 

“I’d like to play fullback down the track when I get more size, probably the body is not up to playing fullback at the moment.

“I’m a natural runner, fast and good on my feet, so maybe I’ll look to play there down the track.”

It was refreshing to hear a young bloke like Field openly discuss his aspirations, without the insecurity of worrying about every word he said. 

In fact, the Dragons have brought a new openness about their public attitude this year.

Joel Thompson’s insight on indigenous issues and mental health. 

Or Paul McGregor’s frustration about his coaching future, until his new deal was announced last week. 

Or Dugan’s determination he is an elite fullback, so who wants to sign me?

Or Jack de Belin’s steely belief he has one of the best engines in the NRL and is up to playing State of Origin, if Laurie Daley was to throw a jersey his way.

It’s a stark contrast to the at-times brief, defensive interviews last year, reflecting their on-field struggles.

Future Blue: Jai Field in the NSW under 20 camp at Kiama. Picture: Adam McLean

Future Blue: Jai Field in the NSW under 20 camp at Kiama. Picture: Adam McLean

It’s a point often lost in media coverage of NRL – and most sport for that matter. 

What players say publicly, in effect to fans, is a measure of how they’re travelling personally or as part of a team. 

It shows the true class of someone like LeBron James, who while he’s obliged to address the media, does so with poise just minutes after he loses an NBA finals series. 

All in front of the backdrop of whether he should be mentioned in the same breath as Michael Jordan.

Which brings me to Queensland coach Kevin Walters announcing boom young forward Coen Hess is on a media ban, to deflect him from “pressure”, before making an Origin debut where the Maroons need to save the series. 

For those unfamiliar with the State of Origin camp environment, here’s a basic run down of a player’s interaction with the media. 

The morning after arriving, the players gather for the team photo and a generally open media session, where they do the rounds with print, digital, radio and television reporters. 

It’s the only real opportunity for journos to gather the feature, profile stories for the rest of the Origin build-up. 

From then on, two players are nominated to speak to the media per day, then the captain on the Monday and coach on Tuesday. 

Now Hess has scored 10 tries in 13 games this year, a fearsome ball-runner for the Cowboys. But club coach Paul Green declared Hess was not ready for the Origin arena before game one.

Green said Hess could be a 10-year Origin player, but not if thrown in before his time. 

So what about now, in the crumbling empire’s hour of need? Ready or not, here he comes. 

Maybe it’s all part of Walters building a siege mentality, for Origin II at ANZ Stadium on Wednesday. 

Maybe Walters is shellshocked from the 28-4 flogging in Brisbane.

But really, a media ban? Spare me. There is never more scrutiny on a player than in Origin, especially when you have to win. 

Somehow, you figure the human wrecking ball Andrew Fifita is a greater threat, than any question the average hack like me can throw up to Hess. 

For all the media’s faults – and however hard the trolls try, we’re not one body working in a conspiracy against (insert public figure here) – there’s a lot to be said for how a player deals with the attention.