Time for Blues to learn their lesson
Blues coach Laurie Daley has urged his young charges to absorb the tough lesson in how to win Origin games and come back a better team in 2018, adamant that they are the right men to end Queensland's 12-year stranglehold.
When New South Wales thundered to victory in record fashion at Suncorp Stadium in Game One talk of a Blues dynasty began emanating south of the border only for Maroons coach Kevin Walters to usher in his own next generation of Queenslanders and wrest away a series in which they had been dominated for the first 140 minutes.
With Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater overseeing the introduction of eight rookies in 2017 Queensland's blip is in danger of being only one game as the Blues struggle find the formula for sustained success.
Led admirably by Boyd Cordner there is a core group of NSW players that Daley says will turn the tide but in order to do so must first come to terms with what it takes to be successful in the Origin arena.
"We could have wrapped up the series in Game Two but it's a learning process," said Daley, who refused to discuss his future as NSW coach in the wake of the 22-6 loss in Game Three on Wednesday night.
"It's a hard lesson because in Origin you only get three cracks at it and it doesn't matter what you do you've got to win two games.
"We've shown glimpses of what we're capable of but we've just got to do it more consistently. And when they do – when we do – we'll have one hell of a footy side but at the moment we're just not doing it consistently enough for a long period of time.
"They'll eventually get there. Obviously we thought it was going to be this year but this group of players that have come through, they're the right people, and you've got some other guys that are on the verge as well.
"NSW, while they should be disappointed, should be quite excited about what can happen."
In a series that ultimately brought the same disappointment of 10 of the previous 11 years Jake Trbojevic was one of the few Blues highlights in his first Origin appearance.
The Manly back-rower was one of his side's best in each of the three matches and in what has to be a positive sign for Blues fans is already thinking about having another crack at Queensland in 11 months' time.
"It hurts a lot. We were in a position to win the series and we let it slip," Trbojevic said of the 16-6 lead they gave up in Game Two.
"It only makes you hungrier. It's going to hurt for a bit and hopefully next year comes around quick.
"It's a long time between series obviously. After the second game at least it was only three weeks away to try and fix it up so it's going to hurt for a while.
"That second game we were probably the better team for most of the game and to come away with a loss was pretty frustrating. At this level you've got to play for the full 80 and they did that.
"They were on top from the first minute. It's really disappointing. It will hurt for a while. Just want to get back here next year."
The Blues threatened to drag themselves up off the canvas when Josh Dugan scored eight minutes into the second half but after a brief flurry a penalty conceded by Wade Graham swung the momentum back the way of the Maroons and it never came back.
Still struggling to come to terms with the result, Graham said the only option for the NSW team is to use the pain of another series defeat and come back better next year.
"That's how you learn, you get beat. You get burnt," said Graham.
"The margin of error is so small and you've just got to learn. Every time you learn, you're always constantly evolving, always trying to be better because as soon as you go backwards there will be someone else coming in and being better.
"We've got to stick solid as a group and as a state. The margin of error is only so small so it's not as if it's a massive area we need to improve but we need to look at all three games and where we weren't quite at our best and where that margin of error was.
"The group [were together] through all three games and not just that group but the guys that were in camp like Jack de Belin, Jordan McLean, Tommy Trbojevic, Dale Finucane. There's a core group there of 21-22 players that are good enough to get the job done."