Heading back to Sydney after Origin I, I left the airport very optimistic about the second game and felt we had discovered some missing pieces in our game that we have maybe lacked over the past few years.

This may sound funny considering we were beaten, but it was because of the way we went down that I knew this group of players have it in them to succeed.
 
With the amount of ball Queensland had in the first half of that game, we were entitled to be behind by 18 points, not 6. It was a great display of courage and toughness under fatigue and gives us a base to build on.

Obviously we need to improve in other areas, but to get to 12-10 in front with seven minutes to go in the circumstances we endured was an awesome effort. Now we need to fix the last seven minutes.

Our completions and lack of field position and time in possession were not up to scratch. Thankfully this can be fixed.
 
The players we have bought into the team are outstanding. Luke Lewis and Kurt Gidley would have been in the first game if fit and both bring Origin experience, toughness and skill in attack.

Jarryd Hayne was unlucky not to be in the first game and just seeing his name there gives me a good feeling. He is a brilliant player and thrives on this stage.

Anthony Watmough is an Origin player; he has done it before and has been it great form for Manly.

Will Hopoate gets his chance and has been great all season. He is big, confident, a great talker and his inclusion gives us another big person at the back of the field. I think it's a fantastic team!

Our guys are mobile, have strike power across the park and we are confident of winning. We must be prepared to go for 80 minutes ... not 73!!
 
Coming home to Sydney to save a series in front of a sellout crowd ... well it doesn't get much better. All the players' friends and family in the stands ... it's an emotional night and one that if you play well is etched in people's memories forever.
 
On another note, we are fortunate to get to do some special activities with the NSW VB Blues team while in camp. Tonight, as part of a new Learn. Earn. Legend! Origin Job Experience Program, 35 youth and school leavers from five Indigenous NSW communities (Greater Batemans Bay Region, Condobolin, Wilcannia, Walgett and Moree) will join us for dinner.

As a One Community Ambassador, I fully support the Origin Job Experience Program implemented by the NRL, in partnership with the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR). 

The program, which promotes the benefits and importance of education and employment opportunities and pathways for Indigenous Australians and their communities, was launched as part of the Learn. Earn. Legend! All Stars Regional Tour in January. It will run from June 12-16.

It will provide these dedicated individuals with a unique opportunity to further develop their existing skills and enable them to be involved in a once-in-a-lifetime experience around the functioning of a State of Origin Series in Sydney.
 
While in Sydney the participants will undertake a two-day work experience placement with the major partners and sponsors of State of Origin (such as Harvey Norman, Toyota, Telstra, OPSM, Coca-Cola, ANZ Stadium, Nine Network, News Limited).

They will participate in mentoring and leadership sessions and further development programs, experience and learn about Indigenous cultures, climb the world iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge and take a Jet Boat ride around Circular Quay among many other activities. The program will culminate in attending Game II of the State of Origin Series at ANZ Stadium next Wednesday.

Hopefully we will send them home with many reasons to smile ... including a win by the Blues next week!