'Sterlo' on his role with Daley's Blues
For years many have attempted to lure Eels, Blues and Kangaroos great Peter Sterling to join their football operations, but NSW finally got their man when 'Sterlo' signed on as an advisor to NSW head coach Laurie Daley for the 2017 State of Origin series.
The former champion halfback – who has four premierships to his name as a player – played 227 games for Parramatta during their golden era, represented his country in 18 Tests, made 13 appearances for NSW between 1981 and 1988 and has gone on to carve out a career as one of the game's most respected broadcasters.
Sterling, who replaces long-term NSW advisor Bob Fulton, told Triple M's Dead Set Legends that his new role revolved around supporting Daley across the year, seeing his involvement as part of a wider network of support for the man in the state's top coaching role.
"The successful coaches in the game, they surround themselves with people whose opinions they respect," Sterling said.
"John Cartwright is on board now, there will be other names I'm sure that will be part of the group as well. As the coach, you take on all of the opinions, put them on top of your own and you make a decision based on all of that input.
"It's talking footy with Laurie. We'll speak regularly and wherever I can add input, I'd like to think I have an opinion.
"I watch pretty much every player every week and I've seen every Origin game ever played. I've got a good understanding of what's required, what makes and what it takes to be successful in Origin."
While triumph in the Origin arena has been hard to come by for NSW of recent years – winning just one series since 2006 – the trophy cabinet at NSWRL HQ is filled to the brim.
2016 was a standout year for NSW sides across the board with victories for the NSW under-16s, under-18s, under-20s and Residents, as well as a historic first-ever victory for the NSW women's side and the Illawarra Cutters' Intrust Super State Championship win, a 54-12 thrashing of the Burleigh Bears.
The NSW Blues went down 2-1 in the State of Origin series but finished in dramatic style in Game Three, sending departing skipper Paul Gallen out with a win. Sterling believes he's joining the NSW set-up at the right time with the players and structures in place to help the Blues reclaim the shield for the first time since 2014.
Citing the example of how Panthers young gun Bryce Cartwright was introduced as a development player and not directly into the NSW 17 this year, Sterling believes Daley is drawing from his own experiences and is making the right decisions to ensure future success.
"Laurie Daley over the last couple of years has made some very important decisions both on and off the field. Firstly the playing roster coming through is superb, you look at guys like Frizell, Moylan, Tedesco, Cordner, Jackson… All these blokes, they're long-term Origin players," Sterling said.
"We've got a great crop coming through, and the pathways now are clearly defined, I think the way that they're managed has been well done by Laurie.
"One thing Laurie is very aware of is the player welfare situation, and looking after the way they are introduced into Origin. Whilst he went on and had a fantastic Origin career himself, it's still very vivid in his mind how difficult that first Origin and early Origin games were for him.
"You don't want to burn players, he's avoided that and I think there are a number of reasons that NSW are well-poised now to bear the fruit of what Laurie has done during his tenure.
"If NSW win this year it's because I'm on board, if we get beat again it's Laurie's fault!"
Sterling's appointment won't guarantee results on the field, but if his comments are any indication he'll provide not only a sounding board for Daley but also a source of comic relief in the often heated cauldron that is Origin football.