NSW Origin skipper Boyd Cordner says the NSWRL Board has his full backing in its decision to make a major shake-up to the coaching structure next year, including a decision not to renew head coach Laurie Daley's contact, but still feels for the outgoing mentor.
Daley gave Cordner his first shot in the interstate arena and this year named him as skipper in place of the retired Paul Gallen, a show of faith that wasn't lost on Cordner who spoke to media after his Roosters ground out a tense win over Cronulla on Saturday night.
"I support the NSW board 100 per cent," Cordner said.
"Personally I was a bit surprised they didn't give [Daley] another go, everyone knows I've got a lot of respect for Laurie and the way he goes about his business as a coach and as a person.
"He gave me my opportunity to play State of Origin in 2013 and he's stuck by me and shown a lot of faith in me to select me as captain as well.
"It's very sad on my behalf to not see him get another go at the coaching job but in saying that I fully support the NSW board's decision and the direction we're heading in."
The Blues' 2017 series loss was not only their 11th in 12 years and fourth in the five seasons Daley has coached, but the first time they were viewed as a team that really should exert some dominance over the perennially unbeatable Maroons. After thrashing Queensland at Suncorp in Game One and completely dominating the first half of Game Two, a lost series seemed impossible so to capitulate from there always meant changes were inevitable.
"It's moving forward now and I'm looking forward to the next series," Cordner continued.
"There's a lot of speculation about who's going to be the next coach but I'm fully concentrated on next week, getting the win [with the Roosters] and then the finals coming up."
NSW Origin legend Brad Fittler – the state's most-capped player and arguably its greatest – has emerged as a short-priced favourite to assume the role.
Despite an at-times whimsical on-screen persona in his work with Channel Nine that gives some the mistaken impression of a character not prone to taking his work seriously, Fittler is a fierce competitor and an intelligent student of the game who has a wonderful track record coaching City Origin and the NSW Origin pathways programs.
He was also a guiding light for a young Taree teenager named Boyd Cordner when he first moved down to the bright lights of Sydney.
"I had a bit to do with Freddie coming down as a 16-year-old from the country to train in the full time [Roosters] squad under Fred," Cordner said when pressed on Fittler's Origin coaching credentials.
"He's a good coach, he's smart, loves his footy, loves NSW. Whoever the NSW Board selects I know they'll be the right person for the job."