Blues Clues: Blues brothers are ready
It is 9.30pm on the eve of Origin II and I am about to settle in for the night. The feeling around the NSW VB Blues camp for Wednesday's Origin II is almost grand final like. It's huge.
Not only is it a sell-out crowd, but extra seating has even been added to ANZ Stadium. That says it all.
There is a lot of confidence in the team from NSW fans and a real belief from coach Ricky Stuart and his staff.
It's all on the line for us. It's a massive opportunity for us guys to go out there and turn things around for NSW.
We have worked so hard and there is a feeling that with all the new systems in place we deserve to be rewarded. But in footy no matter how hard you prepare, you don't always get what you deserve.
Whether it's wet or dry we couldn't be any better prepared physically. We just have to be prepared mentally and not play the game in our heads too early ... and just be ready to go for kick-off at 8.10pm. We can't wait!
Following is Part 2 of my Daily Diary from Origin II.
Saturday, June 11 - Leave pass for the day
It was nice to wake up at home in my own bed and spend the day with my wife Simone and our three children. I took my little fellow to footy (under 6s) in the morning and kept the kids out of the house for a little while to give Simone some time to herself after being away all week.
We had dinner together and I helped put the kids to bed before returning to the camp at Coogee.
There was a different feel going back in ... everyone was a bit more intense with a sense of what was ahead and the fact we were now at the business end of the preparation.
Sunday, June 12 - Training
We slogged it out in the rain at the Sydney Football Stadium for about an hour and a half in our morning training session.
After lunch we went to Titan Fitness Centre at Coogee for a weights session and followed it up with a massage.
That night we had a special dinner with a group of 30 youths and school leavers from five Indigenous NSW communities (Greater Batemans Bay Region, Condobolin, Wilcannia, Walgett and Moree) as part of a new Learn. Earn. Legend! Origin Job Experience Program.
It was a great night. A young Aboriginal girl sang and she did an amazing job. We have a few Indigenous players in the team and these sort of programs are really close to their hearts.
Monday,June 13 - Rest day
We got to sleep in and do our own thing for the day.
After a leisurely morning a few of us went to Fox Studios and watched the movie "The Hangover II" in Gold Class and had a good laugh.
Then it was time to get ready for our jersey presentation. Usually a former great does the presentation, but this time Ricky had left it to us to choose who we wanted to hand us our jersey for Wednesday night's game.
Outside of a footy game, it was one of the most special moments in my life.
For a lot of people it's hard to understand what goes into the Origin experience, from the camp to the game to the whole 10 days you are away from your family.
My wife Simone knows her husband goes away to play in a special game, but it's hard for anyone not in the camp to really understand just how special it is and that the game is a lot more intense than any other game.
I was lucky enough to have Simone come into the camp to give me my jersey and it is something we will look back on and really treasure for getting to experience together.
She got to hear Paul Sironen, Steve Roach, Glenn Lazarus, Ricky Stuart and Trent Barrett talk about what Origin means. She was overwhelmed by it. She felt really special to be involved and was even more proud of me and realised how privileged I was to play Origin.
To see Ricky come to tears was an emotional time for everyone. Trent Merrin's dad was there and Anthony Watmough's mum was very emotional too. Greg Bird and Paul Gallen gave each other their jerseys ... there were some really special moments in that night.
Everyone walked away feeling like they had an even better understanding of what they were there to do and what Origin is about.
And the NSWRL and the people involved really care about all the families, not just the players. It was very special.
Tuesday, June 14 - Origin eve
We had the morning off before heading out to our Homebush accommodation at lunch time.
We trained on ANZ Stadium late in the afternoon and had a good session. We didn't get a drop of rain and while it was
blowing a gale outside the ground, you didn't really notice the wind inside at all.
After training it was dinner and into bed by 9.30pm.
Wednesday, June 15 - Game day
I will go through my usual pre-game routine eating the same foods at each meal and doing my own stretching at the hotel and the Stadium.
After breakfast I'll spend some time on the phone talking to my family.
I'll probably laze around my room with my room-mate Tim Mannah. We have become very close; almost like brothers.
A few of us will have a coffee somewhere and just chill out generally.
8.10pm won't come soon enough. The boys just want to go out there to show the fans we are the right people to do the job for NSW.