Secret weapon behind Blues' success
Former New South Wales skipper Danny Buderus has revealed the man who helped inspire the Blues to their record win over the Maroons in Origin I and the simple messages he uses to get the best out of people.
Corporal Mark Donaldson is an Australian soldier who was awarded the Victoria Cross for his bravery in protecting injured troops under enemy fire and then rescued an interpreter under heavy fire during an operation in Afghanistan.
Donaldson was later named Young Australian of the Year for his incredible acts but first came to the attention of Buderus when prior to his final season at the Knights he was put through a gruelling pre-season Army camp under Donaldson's supervision.
He made a lasting impression on Buderus and was called in to the New South Wales camp ahead of Game One to provide further inspiration ahead of the series-opener.
Prior to facing the Maroons at Suncorp Stadium the Blues participated in a captain's run that lasted all of 10 minutes and Buderus, who captained the Blues a record 15 times, has no doubt Donaldson's influence played a part in their preparation.
"I managed to avoid those crazy pre-season army camps until 2013, when Wayne Bennett put one on at the Knights," Buderus writes in the Round 15 issue of Big League.
"Learning about your teammate's character when he's put under the pressure of fatigue and being in an uncomfortable situation is key to your season.
"Wayne would form an opinion on you there and then – and so would your teammates. In our camp we had Corporal Mark Donaldson VC, who is also in camp as a mentor to the NSW team this year.
"What a presence he has – the way gets his message across with minimal words, very direct and honest. It would be such an honour for the Blues to have him around.
"During the time I spent with him I learned two mottos which will stay with me forever. The first is 'You're never as tired as you think you are', and the second is 'There are no inspirational speeches before battle'.
"I relate the second quote back to being a coach or a captain. It's all about preparation, actions, trust and character of the person you're about to go into battle with, not about stressing if you have everything covered. If you haven't, it's already too late."
Like Corporal Donaldson, current Blues skipper Boyd Cordner is a man more of action than words and Buderus saw his pre-game apology to the media that he would not be saying anything outrageous about the Queensland team as a good indicator of where his attention laid.
"For me, they were the words of a man and a captain who was extremely focused on bringing down one of the best eras of dominance that we've seen in Australian sport," says Buderus.
"The performance he gave in Game One spoke a thousand words – he didn't need to say anything else to anyone.
"The captain's run the day before the game lasted no more than 10 minutes, although clubs usually spend 45 minutes to an hour on this session. It was a sign from the staff and Cordner that the Blues weren't going to win the game in training, or with harsh words in the press, but between the white lines on the field of Suncorp Stadium.
"It would take every available second and require every bit of focus and energy the team could muster.
"Imagine taking part in a session that takes only 10 minutes? Gee, it would give you confidence and make you feel as prepared as possible to know the entire week has been spot on and there was nothing left to cover.
"That's what I call confidence."
The Round 15 issue of Big League features a story on how the Sharks will get the best out of Paul Gallen in 2018, why Dale Finucane became a State of Mind ambassador, the top eight footy fashion moments and analyses why Clint Gutherson's best position is in the halves. On sale now at newsagents, supermarkets, at the ground and via www.magsonline.com.au/big-league.