NSW Origin loss had Laurie Daley on full tilt

Laurie Daley at training with the Blues team in Coffs Harbour. Picture: JAMES BRICKWOOD
Laurie Daley at training with the Blues team in Coffs Harbour. Picture: JAMES BRICKWOOD

His body had just failed him when Laurie Daley began to entertain the thought of quitting the NSW coaching job after the heartache of last year's Origin series defeat.

It is no secret that Daley struggled to overcome the disappointment.

On the eve of a potential series-clinching victory the Blues coach revealed the extent of the damage that series loss inflicted physically and emotionally.

So severe was the stress and exhaustion of the failed campaign in his first year in charge, Daley spent the next couple of weeks bedridden with shingles.

"I thought to myself 'Shit, I don't know if I can do this any more'," Daley said.

"I was knocked around. I didn't realise it would take that much out of me.

"I got sick with what they call shingles and I didn't feel like leaving the house. It was just through being run down.

"I know it's a strange to say over a game of footy but that's the emotions that I was going through," he said.

"Once I realised that being involved in this is pretty special and that I'd chosen to go on a journey that I started, and while the first part of it wasn't successful, you have to keep going."

It was too much to handle for a man who has only spent a handful of games in the coach's chair.

Nothing in his other stints as Country Origin and Indigenous All Stars coach could prepare him for the impact of 240 minutes of Origin football on his life.

"After it you just don't feel like engaging with too many people or engaging in too many conversations," he said.

"You know it and you don't know why you do it, but you just can't help it but a couple of weeks later you start to get over it.

"It's so hard because you just feel that expectation and you feel like you've let people down when you don't get the job done.

"That's just how I felt. It felt like it never would come around, but once the new year rolls around you start to get excited again.

"Once the trials start you start thinking of Origin, which is quite weird because it's four months away but that's how it is. It's quite a weird feeling.

"In club land you're on a rollercoaster up and down but with this there's three games, three weeks apart and you have no option but to nail it. You're judged on three games."

Daley experienced the ultimate highs and lows of playing for club, state and country.

But the pain of an unsuccessful Origin campaign while as coach proved far more difficult to overcome than anything he'd experienced in his playing days.

"It's different as a player, because you're playing for your club so you have to move on pretty quickly," Daley said.

"But as a coach, you hang on to it a lot longer. That's why I must admire the guys who have done it recently and still been club coaches.

"I was drained just during Origin. I don't know how the hell they would have been able to do that and come through the other side. The emotion attached to it is massive."

It was the emotional drain of his first series in charge that triggered a dramatic change in attitude, personality and preparation for his second pursuit of happiness.

This time it's his camp. It's his way. It's his team.

He's stepped out of the shadows of Ricky Stuart and taken the Blues into an era of professionalism that helped his side to a 1-0 series lead heading into Wednesday's game at ANZ Stadium.


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