Daley rapt with Blues defence
Upbeat Blues coach Laurie Daley says he is "rapt" with his side's defensive effort and believes there is a huge amount of improvement in a new-look NSW team he says has every chance of winning the 2015 series, despite their 11-10 loss to Queensland in State of Origin I.
Having been the more dominant side in the first half, the Blues got the second off on the wrong foot with a series of errors and never really recovered, but despite having to defend their own line for much of the second half they were only breached once in the second 40, eventually losing by just a field goal.
Despite the lopsided possession and field position, to have finished at two tries all is a huge boost, according to Daley, who praised his halves, hooker, fullback and forward pack for their contributions.
"Most definitely [we can still win the series]," Daley said after the game.
"From what I saw tonight, it gets me really excited. We were nowhere near our best. Nowhere near our best. No ball. Defence was great but we'll improve that. We'll see what happens."
He identified the errors early in the second half as a turning point.
"The big thing about the second half, without boring you with stats, I think there were nine or 10 times Queensland started their set inside our 50, we didn't have one – and they had plenty more sets than us. Our defence was terrific, as it has been but it's got to be better.
"I thought we hung in there, our effort was great, but you're always looking for excellence aren't you?"
Captain Robbie Farah also drew confidence from the defensive effort.
"We had our chances. As Laurie said our defence was great, they scored that one try in the second half but we kept turning them away," Farah said.
Like Daley, he lauded the efforts of the Blues forward pack.
"In the middle I thought our forwards were outstanding," he said.
"The two starting front-rowers and then the two boys coming on, they got us going forward all night but again, [Queensland are] a champion team and they showed that tonight in the crucial stages and we knew they were going to be at their best tonight. It wasn't anything we didn't expect. We've just got to improve for the next game."
While bench forward Trent Merrin was cited for a dangerous throw he will be free to play for the Dragons this weekend with an early plea, however a shoulder injury suffered by Farah is the main personnel concern for Daley out of the loss.
Farah was picked up and dumped on his shoulder by Maroons centre Justin Hodges in the first half and showed incredible grit to get up and play through the pain on his way to a stunning match-high 58 tackles, with no misses.
"Not too sure mate – I'll go for a scan tomorrow," Farah said of the injury, which was heavily iced in the post-match press conference.
Daley said Farah's effort was courageous.
"He was terrific. But that's what we come to expect from anyone that wears the NSW shirt," Daley said.