Deflated Country Origin coach Trent Barrett said his side should have hung on to win a thrilling clash that ended in a 26-all draw with their City rivals in Dubbo on Sunday.
While he was for the most part delighted with his players, Barrett was disappointed they didn't seal victory after their opponents scored three tries in the final four minutes to steal the draw.
"It was a bit disappointing in the end – I thought we deserved to win, it's a bit deflating but really happy for everyone in our team," Barrett said.
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"I thought the eight debutants we had playing showed they all could handle it. There was one stage there where we had 10 sets on our try-line – if you're looking for an Origin attitude or players that will put their hand up and fight for each other and hang in, then that's a good example of it.
"[I was] impressed by all of them. You couldn't name a bad player from our side. From David Mead, with how good he was, to our back row, just everyone. Like all the talk was about how big their pack was with [Aaron] Woods and [Andrew] Fifita and [Tony] Williams and these sorts of blokes, and a lot of them have played for Australia."
With the focus now shifting to State of Origin and which 17 sky blue jerseys will be handed out to which men, Barrett said NSW coach Laurie Daley had some strong options at his disposal.
"They had some individual brilliance City and I think if Laurie can pick the eyes out of both teams and take the grit that our side showed and that little bit of brilliance that their side showed, well, then NSW is in good hands," Barrett said.
While the likes of NSW Origin incumbents Trent Merrin and Josh Dugan, among others, were ruled out during the week for the Country side, Barrett was very happy with how his side stood up, especially in a forward pack that had individuals playing out of position.
Barrett noted: "We had blokes in the front-row who some of them are back-rowers at club level, and I thought we handled them really well and it's a credit to them, I'm happy for them as individuals. I know some things are going to go their way in the next 18 months with their rep careers."