NSW State of Origin coach Laurie Daley says the next Blues captain will know at least a month before game one next year he’ll be taking over from retired skipper Paul Gallen.
On the same day NSW Sports Minister Stuart Ayres turned the first sod at the site of the Blues’ new home in Homebush, Daley revealed the five players in contention to lead the state in 2017.
Former Blues hero and code-hopper Jarryd Hayne is unlikely to be on the radar despite his rock-star return to the NRL for Gold Coast over the past fortnight.
“He’s a guy that’s very senior and a player that people follow,” Daley said on Wednesday.
“He might’ve been someone we may have looked at but at the moment I wouldn’t like to put that sort of pressure on him.
“The guys that stand out from this year’s series have been your (Aaron) Woods’, (Boyd) Cordners, Josh Jacksons, your Wade Grahams, the younger breed that are coming through.
“They’re the guys you look to as your next leader. They’re all in the frame but that won’t be decided until next year.”
Daley said he will speak to players, club coaches and Gallen himself before putting forward a recommendation to the NSWRL board next year.
Game one will be played at Suncorp Stadium with dates yet to be finalised.
“We’ll let whoever it is know a month or two beforehand, as long as they’re fit,” Daley said.
“There’s a great responsibility with being the captain. I’m sure that we’ll talk about that with them and work through anything they need any help with and see how they go from there.”
The NSWRL’s $20 million facility is half-funded by the state government and will be the new home of men’s and women’s Origin teams and host the Blues’ emerging team camps.
A full-size training field is expected to be ready to use by the end of this year, with the facility to be built by the end of next year.
“This centre of excellence will be a beacon of hope and light for people engaged in rugby league. Today we turn the first sod on the NSWRL Centre of Excellence and we lay the foundations for future success,” Ayres said.