Blues Clues: Ready for the challenge
In general there has been a really good feeling in the camp, everyone feels like they genuinely belong here. We haven’t really achieved anything on the field yet, but we have achieved a lot off the field.
It feels like NSW Rugby league, from all angles, have a real understanding of where we need to be heading. It’s a good feeling to be involved.
It’s a massive challenge ahead for Wednesday’s decider - Darren Lockyer’s last Origin, it’s 1-1 and we’re in their backyard - but we’re all really looking forward to it. We’ve been removed from all the hype so far and Ricky Stuart and his staff have done a great job just getting us to focus on ourselves and the things we can control.
We head to Brisbane on Sunday and the good thing is that because most of us played there for Game 1, it is certainly a lot less daunting. We know where we are staying, where we are training, what our routine is.
No doubt there will be a few little trick shots played by Queensland once we are in their territory, but it won’t faze us. We are ready to play!
DAY 1: Monday, June 27
It was a bit of a different feeling in the camp on Monday as almost half of our team-mates were playing that night for either the Dragons or the Sea Eagles.
We all had dinner at Coogee and watched the game together and spent time just catching up.
There was a bit of collective breath-holding when Jamie Soward was limping after his try, but at the same time we knew there was a good chance he would be ok with a good 8-9 days till game day.
DAY 2: Tuesday, June 28
All the guys who played club games Sunday and Monday did some light recovery work, while the rest did some individual sessions at Coogee.
Medicals were done all the guys with niggles and injuries and no one was ruled out so that gave us a lot of confidence that everyone was likely to be available for Origin, despite all the media hype about an injury crisis.
We had a promotion with our major sponsor VB later in the day and then a few quiet drinks together back at our hotel at Coogee.
DAY 3: Wednesday, June 29
Sleep in day, then it was off to lunch at Woollahra Bowling Club. It was an interesting experience seeing Nicole Kidman getting hounded by the media as she did some shopping with her sister.
After that we had a great opportunity to watch Danny Green sparring at Marrickville, where he is bunkered down preparing for his world title fight.
He has become a good friend of the NSW Origin team over the past few years and formed some strong friendships with a lot of the guys.
It’s good to see how other athletes prepare and what they put their body through. Boxing is quite a lonely sport … they have to have a lot of mental toughness. I really respect what they go through and watching him spar is something I will remember. Some of the punches he threw would have gone through concrete walls.
We all do a bit of boxing in our training, but no one was game to go anywhere near the ring with Danny.
When we got back to the hotel, Julia Russell’s massage therapy team and the physios went to work on us all.
That night we saw the judiciciary outcome on the Rabbitohs’ and Queensland’s Dave Taylor, and I have to say, taking Origin out of the picture, I really felt sorry for him and South Sydney. Five weeks’ suspension was a tough call for that tackle.
I am still of the belief that every incident should be judged on its merit. Souths can’t afford to be without Taylor for five weeks.
I don’t believe in the loading for past misdemeanors … like where you can miss a game because of carry-over points from an incident two or three years earlier with another club even. The system really needs to be look at.
DAY 4: Thursday, June 30
This was our first day of training. Ricky talked to us prior about how the first few days was about getting closer; now was the time to get our minds on the job.
We had a really high energy session, so everyone walked away really pleased with our first hit-out, although we had a few players who couldn’t train like Michael Jennings, Beau Scott and Kurt Gidley.
DAY 5: Friday. July 1
Today we will have everyone involved in the training session in some way which will give Ricky a good idea of who the 17 are going to be. He will make a decision on that when he feels it is appropriate.
We break from camp later in the day for 24 hours, so as always, looking forward to going home and spending some time with my wife Simone and our three children.