ANTHONY WATMOUGH maintains he has not fallen out with Ricky Stuart over his shock State of Origin omission, admitting: ''I'm a big boy. I'll live with it.''
The Manly back-rower sent a powerful message to the NSW coach and selector with a best-on-field performance in the Sea Eagles' 18-10 win over the Sydney Roosters at Brookvale Oval yesterday.
''See that one, Ricky?'' Manly's verbose match-day announcer chirped over the public address system during the second half as Watmough made one of five tackle busts for the match. It was unnecessary commentary, but appropriate in the circumstances.
Watmough, 28, has every right to feel jilted about his Blues snubbing but denied he had run out at Brookvale aiming to prove Stuart wrong.
''I love playing Origin and I was pretty disappointed when Sticky rang me, but in saying that he's gone in a direction and there is no animosity or ill feeling or anything,'' Watmough said.
''I wish the Blues and Sticky the best for game one and I really hope that they stick it to Queensland because I do believe that team that they've got can knock them off. I just hope they do a number on them.''
The Kangaroos forward explained Stuart's phone call to him before the selection announcement eight days ago had been tough to swallow. He was left out, with Stuart opting for Manly colleagues Tony Williams and Jamie Buhrer on the bench for Wednesday's opening Origin match.
''He rang me and just said I was playing well the last few weeks but he's gone in another direction with T-Rex on the bench. Who am I to question his selection?'' Watmough said.
''He's there for a reason, he's there to make the calls. I'm a big boy, I'll live with it. I got back to training the next day and knuckled down and it was just good to go out there and get a win with our boys.
''You never give up hope. If they do a number on Queensland I don't think I'll be selected [for game two] and Sticky will look like a champion. He deserves that. The boys, he would have got them firing for this game.''
Watmough said he was continuing to manage a neck injury, citing that as a reason for rejecting an offer to be 18th man for NSW, but he did not look too inhibited yesterday. ''It's just one of them nervy things. When the neck goes back, the arm and the leg goes numb. It's not meant to go back that far,'' he said. ''But it's not that bad, it settled down pretty quickly during the week, which was good for us. I got a few good days of training in. I didn't want to get into the camp underdone and if something happened out there and get injured in the first 10 minutes and let the team down. I'd rather a young fresh kid go in there and if he gets a start to do a good job.''
As for Wednesday night? ''I'll have a beer somewhere and cheer them on. I love wearing the sky blue jersey and I hope they really do a number on Queensland because we've got to stop the rot.''