Origin force: Daley takes a hard line on Blues

Blues coach Laurie Daley calls the shots at Blues camp at Coffs Harbour on Thursday. Picture: GETTY IMAGES
Blues coach Laurie Daley calls the shots at Blues camp at Coffs Harbour on Thursday. Picture: GETTY IMAGES


Laurie Daley's new hard-nosed approach to the State of Origin opener has been given the thumbs up from his NSW players as the Blues plot their first win in a live game in Brisbane for nine years.

After losing by two points in last year's decider in Sydney, Daley decided to take a more hands-on approach with his players in his second year at the helm.

He dispensed with the services of Jim Dymock and Trent Barrett, allowing him and assistant coach Matt Parish more time to get their message across on the training ground.

And according to Blues prop James Tamou, the players are more than comfortable with the new regime.

"The difference for me is that he's become more hard-nosed and the boys are buying into it and taking it on board," Tamou said.

Daley's decision to name his side eight days before the game instead of the usual 10 has resulted in a more intense start to the week - Tamou said the players have noticed a fierce determination from their coach to end the state's nine-year series drought.

"He's definitely more focused; you can see it in his eyes," he said.

"Last year, we had Jimmy and Trent around and Loz was just talking when need be.

"But this year, he's really taken it on board and telling blokes where they are going wrong and to pull their heads in.

"Last year, he was in the background a bit. From this time last year, we are definitely a step up."

Blues five-eighth Josh Reynolds also welcomed the new Daley approach and said he and halfback Trent Hodkinson are benefiting massively from the Canberra great's experience.

"He's knuckling down on a few things he thought were not up to scratch last year," Reynolds said.

"He's really letting us know. But off the field, he is great. He is cruisy, laid-back and really easy to talk to.

"Me and Trent have been able to ask him a question and he will say yes or no. Communication has been great."

NSW centre Josh Morris believes the yin and yang of Canterbury halves Hodkinson and Reynolds is the perfect blend for the State of Origin cauldron.

The Bulldogs teammates are the 16th halves partnership used by NSW in nine years as Daley rolled the dice by axing Mitchell Pearce and James Maloney.

The pair have one Origin appearance between them with Reynolds playing off the bench in game two in Brisbane last year.

Hodkinson will also make his debut in the bear pit that is Suncorp Stadium next Wednesday.

Despite his inexperience at this level, Morris said Hodkinson has the right mentality and temperament to succeed against the Maroons.

"He is a very composed guy and he is a hell of a defender," Morris said.

"I see that when I am next to him in the defensive line and I have no doubts he'll be fine."

The combination of Reynolds and Hodkinson has guided Canterbury to the top of the NRL ladder after 10 rounds and Morris revealed the duo are polar opposites on and off the field.

"Josh does everything at 100 miles an hour whereas Trent is very calm and steers the team around," he said.

"But they're a good balance together and that's been a real help to us at the Bulldogs and I really think they can bring their good form into Origin."

For the third successive series Morris will line up against his Test teammate Greg Inglis and although he has previously matched the threat of the Queensland superstar, he denied he's worked out how to stop him.

"In my eyes he's still the best centre in the world," he said.

"He's a very dangerous player and I look forward to whenever I play against him. He's a hard man to contain and I just do my best.

"You just have to get as close as possible and try and not get fended in the face and made to look a fool."



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