Laurie Daley says he’ll send the best-prepared NSW side into battle in Wednesday’s State of Origin opener.
Desperate to end a run of eight successive series defeats, Daley has left no stone unturned at the Blues’ camp at Coffs Harbour with an army of sports scientists and a leadership expert employed to work alongside the coaching staff.
Players undergo daily urine and saliva tests in addition to sleep pattern analysis with players noticing the former Blues’ skipper has taken a more hands-on and hard-nosed approach on the training field compared to last year.
“I don’t think I’ve changed. I think different environments create a different atmosphere,” Daley said on Friday.
“The boys have been tremendous and they’ve really done some work. They’ve embraced everything we’ve put in front of them and not whinged or complained.”
The NSWRL has left no expense spared in the quest to beat Mal Meninga’s side for the first time in nine years and Daley is hopeful the decision to move to Coffs from Sydney will pay off.
“We’re trying to be the best we possibly can and I am trying to give the players the best possible chance of winning,” he said.
“That may not happen but at least we can walk away saying we had a red-hot crack at it.
“While we’ve a few more staff than last year, everyone has kept out of each other’s road and it’s been good.”
Until this year, the Blues had only used GPS tracking devices to assess the players’ work-rate and fitness but Daley said he felt the time had come to make camp more professional.
“We looked at all good sporting teams around the world and they all have access to them (sports science),” he said.
“We just wanted to make sure the boys are in the best possible place and then it’s all about what happens on the field.”
Daley opted to dispense with the services of Jim Dymock and Trent Barrett ahead of this year’s series allowing him and his assistant Matt Parish more time to work directly with the players.
“There’s some things you like to be in charge of and some things you leave to your assistants which is good,” he said.
“We’re trying to be the best we can and hopefully it will come off.”
Luke Lewis, who made his Origin debut 10 years, says the difference between now and his first camp is remarkable.
“Origin has always been big, but now it’s a lot more professional compared to when I first played,” Lewis told AAP.
“When I first started back in ’04, the few first few nights were big bonding nights, then a day recovering from the night out.
“Then we’d start our preparations with a couple of big fitness days.
“Now we have daily saliva and urine tests and they’re looking at our sleep patterns.”