How Blues strengthened Wallabies' bid to end All Blacks' reign
After a rare triumph in this season's State of Origin series against Queensland, the NSW Blues have played a key role in the Wallabies' quest to end an even longer domination by the All Blacks in Saturday night's Bledisloe Cup.
The Wallabies trained this week at the NSWRL's Centre of Excellence, adjacent to ANZ Stadium, which was used for the first time by the Blues during Origin as they prepared for their second series win since 2006.
Rugby Australia had allowed Brad Fittler's team to use their gymnasium and indoor training facilities at Moore Park during the Origin series and the NSWRL returned the favour as the Wallabies attempt to win the Bledisloe Cup for the first time in 16 years.
"We've had a good relationship with the Wallabies for a long time," NSWRL chief executive David Trodden said.
"The Wallabies manager, Pat Molihan, used to work for the NSWRL and a couple of years ago their coach, Michael Cheika, was invited to come along to one of our pre-season camps and talked to our State of Origin players about his coaching philosophies.
"During the State of Origin series they were good enough to allow us to use their facilities at Moore Park so that helped us out and we are in turn allowing them to use our facilities at Sydney Olympic Park.
"If that helps them to have success in the Bledisloe Cup then that would be a good thing for everyone, I would think."
The Wallabies, who have been in camp at Sydney Olympic Park, are the first team not associated with the NSWRL to use the Centre of Excellence.
However, once the $20 million project is completed next year, with change rooms, sports science facilities and a lecture theatre, it is envisaged that Telstra Premiership clubs will want to access it while staying at one of the hotels near ANZ Stadium.
"In the future the Broncos, the Cowboys, the Warriors and other non-Sydney teams who are playing games at ANZ Stadium could stay at Sydney Olympic Park and use the facilities for the captain's run or their recovery and they just walk across the road," Trodden said.
There is also a tunnel under the road into ANZ Stadium that enables teams to warm-up at the NSWRL Centre of Excellence and walk straight onto the playing field.
"In big games like the grand final or State of Origin the teams can't warm up on the field because of the pre-match entertainment so they have to warm up in the dressing rooms," Trodden said.
"That won't be an issue anymore because they can warm up on our field, use the dressing sheds and walk under the road through the tunnel and on to the field ANZ Stadium."