Blues set to abandon Coffs Harbour base

NSW are likely to abandon their Coffs Harbour base at the end of this year’s State of Origin series.

The northern NSW town will always be well regarded by Blues players and officials for the role it helped play in the 2014 drought-breaking series win.

The Blues have used the Elite Sports Training Centre at the Novotel Pacific Bay Resort in Coffs Harbour in the two years following that success, but have been unable to replicate it.

The NSWRL’s contract with the resort concludes at the end of this season’s interstate series.

Eddie Jones set up the complex, complete with a first-class training field and gym, when he was Wallabies coach from 2001 to 2005. South Sydney have also used the facilities as pre-season preparation.

But there is a feeling within the NSW set-up that Coffs Harbour has had its day.

The problem for NSW is where they will base their preparations for the 2017 series, given their Centre Of Excellence at Sydney Olympic Park won’t be completed until early 2018.

Penrith’s brand new state-of-the-art Rugby League Academy, considered the best in the NRL, has been mentioned as a possibility, as has Manly’s training base at Narrabeen at the NSW Institute of Sport.

Or the Blues could return to Coogee, where they based themselves before their move to Coffs Harbour.

Panthers supremo and NSW coaching great Phil Gould appeared to open the way for NSW to use Penrith’s facilities next year when he wondered if Coffs Harbour was of the best use for the team, in his Fairfax Media column on Wednesday.

“I can understand taking preparations to a warmer climate to prepare for a match in Queensland. I just can’t get my head around why we don’t prepare for a Sydney Origin here in Sydney. Maybe I’m just being pedantic,” he wrote.

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