How Origin coaches use Telstra Tracker data
Michael Maguire has seen first-hand the difference a State of Origin debut can make to a player's club form and coaches throughout the NRL will scrutinise the tracking data from Wednesday's series opener in Melbourne as a guide to their workload in the days and weeks that follow.
The incredible intensity of football on display in Wednesday night's Holden State of Origin series opener will expose a whole new generation of NRL players to the highest calibre of rugby league.
Telstra Tracker technology will be on hand to highlight to viewers exactly how hard players work in the interstate arena.
It is widely accepted that players who are up to the rigours of Origin footy return to their clubs from their maiden series as better players; the theory is that being surrounded by the best-of-the-best in terms of players helps lift new players to their level.
Maguire, the former Rabbitohs coach who was recently appointed to the helm of the New Zealand Kiwis, told NRL.com it is as much about experiencing the higher intensity brand of football as it is about learning from elite players.
With Telstra Tracker on hand this year to quantify how much harder players are working, the rugby league-loving public will be able to see exactly what goes into making Origin such a high standard of football.
"We're going to see a real rise in a lot of young kids going back to NRL, the fact they've played at such as high intensity," Maguire said.
"When you do come back it's like an experience you've never had before. You're coming back at a higher level when you go back to clubland.
"The intensity around what you can get out of an Origin and the information you can show players builds their knowledge that they can go to a higher place than where they've been and gives them confidence and belief about where they are.
"You can use the information in many different ways as a coach but I always remember, players that went into Origin camps or international games, they came back better players.
"People say 'you're playing with better players' but the actual game's at a higher intensity so when you come back to clubland that slight difference in intensity allows you to see things better.
"You're seeing gaps that might have been a metre, now look two metres wide because you're seeing it in a different light because of being able to hand the intensity of a game. Where the information can take us is mind-boggling."
Kangaroos high-performance manager Troy Thomson, who worked with Maguire at Souths including the 2014 premiership season, used the example of former Rabbitohs back-rower Chris McQueen as the perfect example of someone whose Origin experience lifted them to a new level.
From 2009-11, McQueen was primarily a winger or centre. He was moved to the second row in 2012, made his Origin debut for the Maroons in 2013 and helped his club to a grand final win in 2014.
"[McQueen] was probably playing 60 minutes and played 80 minutes in an Origin match," Thomson said.
"I don't think he thought he could do that. It was a really intense game and it really helped him through his career."
Thomson said the match speed and lower rates of errors and penalties in Origin tended to convert to higher intensity readings for players.
"Probably the two most prominent metrics out of that are the intensity of the game which we measure in metres per minute, it's a standardised intensity measure, and the total volume in those games," Thomson added.
"Quite often the Origins are those battles of attrition and a real arm-wrestle so generally speaking Origin and Test football tends to show a bit higher in those particular areas."
Maguire said the tracking technology could also highlight the exciting nature of the new-look team Fittler had picked for Origin I, packed with speedsters like Josh Addo-Carr and James Roberts.
"The thing that's very exciting around the NSW team, there's lightning speed across the park," Maguire said.
"From a tracking point of view, it's going to be a pretty live game. Queensland have got the same. With NSW it's a bit of an unknown but what they do have is speed across the park."