Laurie Daley rounded on NSW’s critics after their win in State of Origin II as the Blues again move to adopt a siege mentality ahead of the series decider.
NSW’s 26-18 victory in front of a record MCG crowd of 91,513 on Wednesday keeps the Origin series alive ahead of next month’s decider in Brisbane.
The Blues copped plenty of criticism after their narrow loss in game one and Daley said he was proud of his team’s effort to rebound with a win.
“Most definitely, and this team can do a lot better than that,” Daley said.
“People wanted to be critical of us. We’ve got huge challenge but it was exciting.
“We will see how we go. The little old battlers from NSW; `the duds’ people keep calling us and it was good for us.
“Any time you win an Origin game is special. They’re a great team (Queensland) and have been great team for long time so I am immensely proud.”
Daley also had the Maroons, including QRL chairman Peter Betros, in his sights over their over their repeated claims the Blues did little to promote game two in Melbourne.
“Paul, Peter, whatever his name is, they can be critical all they want but at the end of the day we had to do what was right for our team and that was to prepare in Coffs Harbour and that is what we will do again for game three,” he said
Daley particularly praised the efforts of his halves Trent Hodkinson and Mitchell Pearce.
“They were outstanding,” he said.
“We knew what they could do. Plenty of people are quick to jump in but they forget Trent won an Origin series last year.
“He loses one game by a point and everyone wants to kick him. He showed he belongs.”
Blues skipper Paul Gallen said his side was motivated by the deluge of criticism that came their way.
“No one likes being spoken badly about or bagged,” Gallen said.
“We knew our backs were against the wall. We have the shield and it was up to us to keep the series alive.”
After first-half NSW tries to man of the match Michael Jennings and Josh Morris were matched by Queensland four-pointers to Matt Scott and Greg Inglis, the Blues went to the break leading 14-10 thanks to three goals from three attempts by Hodkinson.
Matt Gillett beat some weak Blues defence to put the Maroons ahead early in the second half. That was before Aaron Woods barged his way over in the 62nd minute, and Hodkinson’s conversion put NSW ahead 20-18.
Josh Dugan’s 70th minute effort sealed the match for the Blues, but only after tries to Pearce and Inglis were controversially disallowed.
NSW are set to go into Origin III in Brisbane on July 8 as underdogs as they seek back-to-back series wins for the first time since 2005.