Retiring NSW skipper Paul Gallen predicts a changing of the guard for the Blues no matter the outcome of this year’s State of Origin series.
The Blues enjoyed a rest day in Coffs Harbour on Friday before bunkering down for a high-stakes encounter in Brisbane in what will be Gallen’s final Origin appearance at Suncorp.
A win will set up a grandstand finish for one of the state’s most adored servants back home in Sydney, but a loss would not just end yet another failed campaign, but could finish a number of Origin careers.
Gallen said a turnover is inevitable.
“It’s a natural occurrence anyway,” Gallen told AAP.
“Teams evolve and I’ve already said it’ll be my last series. We’ve got (Greg) Bird and Robbie (Farah) who are in their 30s and Josh Morris, guys like that. There’s going to be people moving on in the next year or so anyway. That’s just the way it is.”
Blues coach Laurie Daley has already begun phasing in the next generation of Blues, with Tyson Frizell to become the fourth NSW debutant of the series in game two.
His initiation comes after fellow rookies Matt Moylan, Adam Reynolds and Dylan Walker were put through the wringer in game one at ANZ Stadium.
The four first-timers is the most Daley has selected in a series since taking over from Ricky Stuart in 2013, when he blooded seven new players, including current stars Blake Ferguson, James Maloney, Aaron Woods and Andrew Fifita. There were just two debutants in 2014, and none last year.
Vice-captain Robbie Farah said he always prepared as if the next Origin game would be his last.
“Who knows, this could be my last game or I could play for another two more years,” he said.
“You’ve got to go out there and perform every time and if you don’t, someone else will be ready to take your jumper. All I’m focused on is playing well this game, if I do that, it gives me the best chance possible of continuing to put on that jumper.”
Daley’s position is also likely to be questioned should he concede yet another series defeat to Queensland, with former coach Craig Bellamy the only mentor to survive consecutive series losses.
Gallen said it wasn’t for him to comment on Daley’s chances of being back next year.
“He’s a terrific coach, he gets us mentally and physically prepared. We’ve come up with a good game plan for every game. I love him as a coach.”