Laurie Daley hints at NSW Origin exit as Gould lends support

The end? New South Wales Blues coach Laurie Daley. Picture: AAP Image/Regi Varghese
The end? New South Wales Blues coach Laurie Daley. Picture: AAP Image/Regi Varghese

A cryptic Laurie Daley hinted at a State of Origin exit, but refused to confirm whether the decider would be his last game in charge of NSW as he plots to deliver a hammer blow to Queensland's decade-long dynasty.

The Blues coach was at his cagey best when it came to the topic of his future – one he has dodged all series – despite rumblings he had become worn down by the all-consuming role of trying to return interstate supremacy south of the Tweed.

Daley refuses to take the focus away from his side – which is on the cusp of delivering the coach a second series win in five years against arguably the greatest Origin team ever assembled for much of his tenure – after their Origin II fadeout in Sydney.

Asked whether he would coach his last game at Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday night, Daley said: "My last game? My job is to make sure I get this team ready to go and get them in a position to win. When we've done that I know we'll play well [on Wednesday] and we'll move on.

"I'm worried about [Wednesday] night and once [Wednesday] night rolls around you may hear something. I just want to know that this team has been set up in the right way that we can have success going forward. When you do that, you know you've done your job."

It has fuelled speculation Daley is convinced he has put in place the building blocks for a NSW golden generation having blooded several soon-to-be Origin mainstays in the past few years.

Blues legend Brad Fittler, Raiders assistant coach Dean Pay and Daley's right-hand man John Cartwright have all been touted as potential candidates if Daley was to walk away, regardless of the result of game three.

But Daley has won the support of NSW's most successful coach, Phil Gould, who is the only coach to win more than one series in charge of the Blues. Daley could join him on Wednesday night.

"I don't know if we have any better options than Laurie Daley to coach this side," Gould said on Nine's Six Tackles With Gus podcast. "I don't think anyone is going to know Origin better than Laurie.

"Laurie has done it really tough when NSW has lost a series. I don't know if he likes the physical and emotional drain it leaves on him after a lost series. If he was to lose this series it would be devastating for him. He would likely walk away – at least until after Christmas – and have a think about it and think, 'I've got to come back and right this'."

Daley's consultant Peter Sterling said he would like to think the only reason the coach would leave the job was if he was worn down by it rather than any results driven decision.

Daley's stubborn refusal to ensure his future doesn't cloud the Blues' preparations hasn't helped him get a better gauge on NSW's winning chances on Wednesday night after Boyd Cordner's calf complaint dogged the build-up.

Cordner came through the captain's run at Cbus Super Stadium unscathed on Tuesday, but is not a guarantee to play 80 minutes.

Asked if their game three preparation was as good as at any time throughout the series, Daley said: "I think game two was our best prep, but we didn't win.

"You can never tell. I've given up predicting. All I know is you've got to prepare well to give yourself the best chance. Sometimes you won't play well, sometimes you do play well.

"This prep has been as good as the others and we've just got to be ready."

The match is officially a sellout with the last tickets snapped up on Tuesday.

Support: Former NSW coach Phil Gould in 1994.

Support: Former NSW coach Phil Gould in 1994.