Laurie Daley makes right calls over State of Origin



If NSW are to snap Queensland's Origin stranglehold it would surpass anything Laurie Daley has achieved as a player in the sky blue.

It's hard to begin to explain how much this series means to Loz and how different he's been since taking the reins. He would probably be the first to admit he listened to too many people last year.

It's understandable considering he was thrust into the job with no NRL coaching experience to back him up. He was trying to learn on the job to an extent.

Fast forward 12 months and he's a completely different man. He's been hanging like all of us to right the wrongs of 2013. It's not something you can just go to bed with and forget about the next morning. The pain of that Origin defeat would have lingered for weeks - if not months.

We were so close last year the temptation would have been just to tinker with a few things and hopefully get a different result. Loz didn't see it that way. He's overhauled everything we do in camp.

He put his foot down in relation to standards he expects of his players and the Mitchell Pearce situation reiterated that. That's a perfect example of Loz backing his judgment.

He's made the big decisions and has complete control of every aspect of the preparation. He knows what he needs to do now.

Coffs Harbour has been a haven for the squad.

Much has been made of the sports science assistance Loz has used to help the boys be at their absolute physical peak.

They're telling the coaching staff that the players are in an even better space than before that epic game one win. That's a huge achievement on Laurie's behalf.

And it's not hard to see what attitude he's got for game two. Maybe last year Loz would have opted for the safe option to cover the loss of the Morris twins to injury. He might have shuffled Beau Scott or Luke Lewis into the centres to ensure that experience was there.

Picking Josh Dugan and Will Hopoate on the right flank says he smells blood and we're going to attack you from outset. It's a huge shift in mindset from 12 months ago.

That's why the first 20 minutes are going to be so crucial on Wednesday night. The message all week has been about forcing Queensland to play catch-up. Let's rattle them early, get them outside of their comfort zone and maybe we can capitalise on a few loose balls.

Momentum is so crucial in the modern game and we're going to establish it in the opening quarter.

The best thing for us would be for Greg Inglis to play at five-eighth if Daly Cherry-Evans is ruled out. I reckon we can get multiple men in the tackle against him then and he'll be much easier to control than if he was roaming in the centres.

Why do I think we'll win?

Just look at our forwards and bench. On paper - man for man - we edge the Queenslanders. And we all know Origin games are won in the battle up front.

In any case, great players can always find another gear when it's needed.

Queensland are a champion team and they'll throw the kitchen sink at us in Sydney.

If the series opener was a beauty, buckle up for game two as it has the potential to be even better.


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