NSW marathon man Ryan Hoffman says the side is under no illusions they will have to discover new pain thresholds if they’re going to defend their State of Origin shield.
The Blues wrote themselves into folklore last year, adopting a whatever-it-takes mentality and playing through pain and injury to break Queensland’s eight-year winning streak.
Brett Morris gritted his teeth to play with a broken shoulder for 61 minutes of game one.
His brother Josh was in the midst of being taken from the field with a knee injury in the same game when he ran back on to make a try-saving tackle while Beau Scott collapsed at fulltime after working himself to a standstill.
Hoffman was co-awarded the Blues player of the series along with Jarryd Hayne after putting in a tireless performance, with the Warriors back-rower spending just two minutes on the sidelines during all three games of last year’s series.
His only break came in the first game when in the 65th minute he was pulled from the field because he had nothing left in the tank, but soon after putting his bum on a seat he had to run back out after Josh Morris was taken off.
“The biggest thing is being there for your teammates,” he said.
“You have to have that inner sanctum and realise that what you’ve created is special. You’ve got a responsibility to your teammates, a responsibility to be there and to respond.
“We saw some great examples of it last year and I’m sure we’re going to see plenty more this year.”
Hoffman has no hesitation in calling last year’s Origin I the toughest game of his career and said it had set the new standard for the Blues’s new culture.
“You just keep going until you can’t go anymore,” he said.
“The coaching staff will see that but it’s up to you until you’re taken off.”
Hoffman was voted the co-winner of the Brad Fittler Medal by the Blues players and coaching staff after a tireless effort across the series, an acknowledgement he calls one of the proudest accomplishments of his career.
Blues coach Laurie Daley said Hoffman was the kind of player who helped set examples for the squad.
“He only came off for two minutes (during last year’s series) and he had to go straight back out there,” Daley said.
“So he can tough it out. He plays long minutes for us which is an advantage for us in the backrow.”