Laurie Daley’s early, upsetting State of Origin experiences will have the NSW coach again leaning on the side of conservatism at the selection table ahead of this year’s interstate series.
One of the Blues’ greatest players, Daley said he wasn’t ready for rugby league’s most-exacting arena when he made his debut in the 1989 series, in a year Queensland secured on Origin clean sweep.
Still holding that bad experience close to his heart, Daley indicated at the annual True Blues dinner at Sydney’s Star casino on Wednesday night that his Blues incumbents would hold the inside running in selection for this season.
That comes despite the increasing calls for the likes of James Tedesco, Blake Austin and Bryce Cartwright to be given their NSW debuts.
“It is important that going into Origin, you have a bit of form, you have a bit of confidence, but it is also important that you have been there and you know what to expect,” Daley said.
“Origin is a different rugby league field and, if you have never experienced it before, there are many challenges that you do face and you have to be ready. I know when I first got called to play State Of Origin, I thought I was ready but I wasn’t.
“That is probably one of the reasons why I don’t want to put men into those positions when they are not ready. I would rather they be over-ready than be under-cooked.”
Daley was criticised for showing loyalty to his players last season despite some indifferent efforts as NSW relinquished the Origin Shield they had reclaimed the previous season after eight years of Queensland dominance.
NSW’s greatest coach Phil Gould was a strident critic, for one, of captain Paul Gallen’s continued involvement with the Blues.
The Maroons wrested back Origin supremacy in the most-emphatic fashion when they handed out the biggest hiding in interstate history in the series decider, winning 52-6 at Suncorp Stadium.
The humiliation of that experience still sits sorely with the Blues.
“We have made some tremendous steps forward (in recent years) but, game three, we took some steps backwards and we have to rectify that because we will be judged on how we do that,” Daley said.