State of Origin | Blues need to improve

Captain Paul Gallen and coach Laurie Daley share their thoughts after a New South Wales training session this week. Picture: GETTY IMAGES
Captain Paul Gallen and coach Laurie Daley share their thoughts after a New South Wales training session this week. Picture: GETTY IMAGES

As soon as the NSW players reconvened in camp, Laurie Daley hit them right between the eyes.

He switched the video on from game one and showed them where they needed to improve. It needed to be done.

The support from the public and media since game one has been enormous. But what has this team really achieved? Haven't we been down this road before?

Laurie told them straight - game one was great but we've got nothing to celebrate until we win the series. And he's right.

When you really analyse game one there was even less in it than you think. Both sides scored two tries and if not for a backs-to-the-wall effort defending the line in the second half we would have been licking our wounds again.

And we just can't underestimate how important this game is for not only each individual player - but also the state.

First things first, anyone hoping Greg Inglis, Billy Slater or Daly Cherry-Evans won't play will be sadly disappointed, I think.

Corey Parker is a loss for Queensland, no doubt. He's so versatile and they'll lose a lot of their second-phase play with him out. The others? We're expecting them all to play.

Whoever the 17 blokes from Queensland are to put that maroon jersey on will be coming to get us. We just have to expect that.

And if we're not better than what we were up in Brisbane then the ledger will be squared by 10pm on Wednesday. You don't want to be going up to Suncorp Stadium for a decider having scrapped tooth and nail to get the advantage away from home.

We shouldn't even talk about motivation because if you can't get motivated for any Origin game - let alone this one - then you shouldn't be playing the game.

But I think the most important thing for a lot of the players is to harness that energy. ANZ Stadium isn't that far removed from Suncorp Stadium in terms of sporting amphitheatres any more.

That's one thing Queensland have been so good at for so long - feeding off their rabid supporters in the cauldron.

Blatchy's Blues have ensured ANZ Stadium will have a similar intimidatory factor for the visitors on Wednesday night. They've got to realise how important they are to the side they're supporting.

So how do the players cope with this mountain of expectation which seems to be finding a new peak every day?

Switch off. Sounds simple, huh? It's not. That's why Coffs Harbour is the perfect sanctuary for a few days, ala game one.

Knowing what Origin is about was a huge factor in Josh Dugan and Will Hopoate getting the nod to replace the injured Morris twins. You just can't blood rookies in a game of this magnitude.


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