STATE OF ORIGIN
Experience key for new Blues coach: Daley
Former NSW coach Laurie Daley believes having experience as a player at State of Origin level should give Brad Fittler the edge over Michael Maguire for the vacant Blues job.
Fittler is the most capped Blues player in Origin history with 31 appearances. Maguire never reached that level during a short club career in the mid-1990s.
The pair are locked in a two-horse race for the position with the NSWRL board expected to meet on Friday.
"The two that have been discussed – Freddie and Madge – both outstanding qualities as coaches and they can't go wrong," Daley said on Thursday.
"[But] I think it does [help to have experience] because it's different to any other game. It's a big build up. It's like three grand finals in six weeks and the rollercoaster you have is very emotional.
"If you don't understand it and you get caught up in it you can lose sight and focus. I think a lot of club coaches when they've tried to combine both have found it difficult. It's an intense time and period."
The NSW hierarchy will decide on whether to go for Fittler – a laid-back character who has proven himself during Lebanon's Rugby League World Cup campaign – or Maguire, an intense but effective coach who was instrumental in South Sydney's 2014 premiership.
"I think whatever type of coach it is, the players are really good in adapting to different styles and coaches," Daley said.
"They've got a group that are enthusiastic and keen. That are sick of losing and they want to win. We couldn't do that this year. It was a great opportunity missed. But they're ready to go and they'll have success.
"That's why NSW should be excited because we've got great young players that have been exposed at that level now – either at Test or NSW level – that will be there for years to come and that is the exciting thing about NSW at State of Origin level. We're about to have long-term success.
"I've had a yarn to Freddie and I spoke to him about what my perception of it was and how my time was there. He's a good mate and I'm sure that if he gets the job he'll do it well.
"As is Madge, he's a good friend of mine from the Canberra days and we still stay in contact now. Either one of those guys will do a fantastic job."
"It's like three grand finals in six weeks and the rollercoaster you have is very emotional."
Daley's only concern was the idea of whether the state could afford to have the coach in a part-time role only, given the demand for the series tends to begin early in the NRL season.
"If it's a full-time role not only are you coaching but you are doing a lot of promotion of the game both in the city and in the country areas," Daley said.
"NSW are coming into a great period of growth with their players, they're ready to win Origin consistently. Unfortunately we couldn't do it this year. But they're ready to go, they've got some great players. Either of these two will do the job and lead NSW into a very successful era.
"They're an experienced board and they will come up with the right decision and right guy."
Meanwhile, Daley threw his support behind Mitchell Pearce as the incumbent NSW halfback searches for a new club following his departure from the Sydney Roosters.
Pearce's exit from the Tricolours drew criticism from North Queensland captain Johnathan Thurston earlier in the week, but Daley said it was a decision only Pearce was entitled to make.
"That could have been an option for him [to stay], but where he is at this stage of his footy career he seems to think it's best he moves on," he said.
"You can't begrudge anyone for that. He'll have a different outlook on things now and jump into a new club excited and refreshed.
"While it's sad he's decided to move on, he'll probably get more years out of his footy career by doing it."
Manly lead the race for Pearce's signature and Daley believes he could be a great halves partner for Sea Eagles skipper Daly Cherry-Evans.
"They could combine well and I think going to Manly under Baz (Barrett) could be a benefit to him, Baz being [a former] five-eighth would take a key interest in him," Daley said.
"No doubt it would work, but there is a couple of other clubs showing interest."