Blues 'duds' get job done
Blues coach Laurie Daley said he was immensely proud of what his side achieved in levelling the State of Origin series with a 26-18 win at the MCG and took a swipe at some of the criticism his side has received so far during the year.
"People wanted to be critical of us, we had a huge challenge," Daley said after the game.
"The little old battlers from NSW, the duds I think a few people called us – it was good for us."
Blues skipper Paul Gallen, who copped more than his fair share, also weighed in.
"There was plenty of things said about as us a team and individuals," he said.
"Plenty of people would have liked to see us fail and we didn't. At the end of the day we did what we had to do.
"We didn't do anything too special I don't think, it was a must-win game for us, we managed to get that done now we go up for decider in another must-win game."
Daley said the most pleasing aspect of the win was that the side didn't take a backward step, as well as beating a truly great Queensland team.
"I am immensely proud because to beat them at their best," Daley said.
"They knew we were coming to bite them, we didn't catch them by surprise. And I know we can improve. We'll go up to Queensland, we'll be confident, we know it's going to be hard but that's what Origin is, it's a challenge and you have to be ready to go for 80."
Gallen led from the front as he always does but with less of a burden on him than in the past with the win built on immense performances from props Aaron Woods, James Tamou and David Klemmer, while back-rower Ryan Hoffman was again close to best on field.
Daley praised the efforts of his young prop rotation.
"Woodsy was fantastic [along with Klemmer and Tamou]. [They're] big boys, got strong constitutions for work, they're learning what Origin's about," he said.
"It was great for them to have skipper back tonight, because while we're a young team, you still need that experience to learn as you develop."
Gallen had to go off with a rib complaint after 20 minutes but returned later in the first half after receiving attention and Daley praised the toughness of his captain.
"[Gallen] has always been a spiritual leader, not only does he lead on the field but he has a presence and that's what people have when they're leaders," Daley said.
"They don't have to say much but people feel comfortable when they're in the side.
"That's what our guys have to learn when they're leaders. Other people feel comfortable with them in there, you can't have a team when don't feel comfortable with someone but if you know someone's consistently going to aim up, consistently going to get the job done, that's when you get that sort of status and he does that every week."
Daley revealed Gallen had wanted to go straight back on after getting his ribs seen to and was "filthy" to have to wait for an interchange.
"We've had some tough players but he'll cert go down as one of the toughest," he said.