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Blues take left-field approach to handle MCG hype

Nothing can prepare a young Blues team for the noise of more than 80,000 screaming fans at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Wednesday night.

But NSW coach Brad Fittler has introduced some strategies that might help - like yoga and mindful breathing.

The transformation of "Freddy" from rebellious young player to enlightened coach over the past three decades has gone from one end of the spectrum to the other.

Don't expect the Blues to employ a group meditation technique after scoring a try like the Warriors have done this year, but they are trying to be a more calm and focused squad as they look to break a three-year losing streak in the Holden State of Origin arena.

Not everyone has converted quickly to the ancient practice though.

Take Jake Trbojevic - the 24-year-old, who has been joined in camp for the first time by brother Tom, is a late adopter to meditation and slow breathing exercises.

"Me and my brother aren't very flexible, so we struggled at it," he said.

"We give it a go and give it our best. It's actually quite relaxing. I enjoyed it for a little bit."

Blues forward Jake Trbojevic.
Blues forward Jake Trbojevic. ©Nathan Hopkins/NRL Photos

Blues winger Josh Addo-Carr is renowned for being the fastest player in the Telstra Premiership but he has embraced the chance to slow down.

"It's good just to reset," he said.

"You're thinking about what your job is for the team."

One player who won't need any help putting the lid on his emotions is rookie Blues halfback Nathan Cleary.

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Trbojevic has been impressed at the 20-year-old's unflappable temperament.

"Nathan Cleary has impressed me his whole career," he said.

"He's such a quality player, and a quality person as well. So level-headed and so calm. That's the way he plays, and in training, he's the same.

"Even from an early age. I remember playing I think in his third first-grade game, and how good and composed he was at 18. It's unbelievable - he's (only) 20 still."

As one of only six survivors from last year's Blues team, Trbojevic doesn't feel like an older statesman just yet.

But with 11 rookies in the squad, there are many players to help adjust to the intensity of Origin football.

"I haven't given them advice - I've only played three games," he joked.


Josh Addo-Carr signs autographs at Luna Park in Melbourne.
Josh Addo-Carr signs autographs at Luna Park in Melbourne. ©Grant Trouville/NRL Photos


"But blokes like (James) Maloney, (Boyd) Cordner and (David) Klemmer have played around 10 Origins, so they've been talking to a few of the fellas and taking them under their wing, and telling them what to expect.

"It's really exciting - with 11 debutants, there is a lot of hype. But everyone in the state is excited. All the boys are really pumped and ready to go."

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It's Addo-Carr's first time in Blues camp and the Melbourne winger is embracing every second of his senior representative debut.

"Every moment, every day has been so good," he said.

"Freddy's chosen good people and those in form. I can't wait to tell my kids in 20 years time that I was in camp."


 Witness Australia's greatest sporting rivalry when Origin comes to the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Wednesday, June 6. Bronze tickets available from $49 here.


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