A more intense Blues coach Laurie Daley has taken the unusual step of demanding halves Josh Reynolds and Trent Hodkinson address the team before each training session.
The trio meet each morning in NSW camp to watch video and then work out a plan for that training session before Reynolds or Hodkinson speak to the team about the direction the session is headed. It comes as prop James Tamou described the transformation of Daley from laid back to becoming much more direct and hands on as he embarks on his second Origin series.
Reynolds said he was unnerved by the initial delivery but indicated the experience had helped him take on a leadership position with the team. “It is a bit different but it’s good,” Reynolds said. “At the time me and Trent were like ‘wow, this is going to be something different’. We do the video with him before it but we have to deliver it. The first day it was a bit daunting. Now we’re confident. It brings out confidence in us. You can tell they’re listening to us. All their eyes are on us. It gives me Trent and some confidence.
“You have to talk to guys who have played how many Origins and done whatever they have done in their careers. Me and Trent are coming in as our first combinations and they’re telling us to take control. When you’re put into a situation like that it is going to be a bit daunting. We have got our heads around us and in the end it has been really good. We definitely speak about it before in the sense of who is going to say what. All in all I think the boys have really bought into it.”
While roommates Reynolds and Hodkinson take the major control over the meeting, the rest of the “spine” combination of Jarryd Hayne – who didn’t complete Thursday’s training session – and Robbie Farah also speak up, as does captain Paul Gallen.
“We sort of said to ourselves that even though it might be a bit daunting, let’s go out there and say what we need to say,” Reynolds said. “We told the boys if there is any feedback you want to give us, even negative, just tell us. We have thick skins, we can take it. That’s really good that we have that bond already that they can tell us if we’re not leading them around the park and they can tell us if we need to fix something. I think you need that in a team. You can’t just tiptoe and step on eggshells all the time.”
Daley, long considered one of the nice men of rugby league, has taken a hard-nosed approach to this series. Tamou said Daley was far more hands-on this series. “The first thing that was different from last year is that he looked each and everyone of us in the eye and just said this is what he wants,” Tamou said. “He has come more with a hard-nosed approach. I wouldn’t say tense this year, but more focused. You can see it in his eye. Everyone feels that presence about him now. Last year we had Jim Dymock and Trent Barrett around to coach us and he was just talking where he needed. This year he has taken it on board and telling blokes what he wants from them and if we aren’t going well telling them to pull their head in.
“This time last year we have gone a step up. If we’re in the middle of play he’ll stop the play and tell you how it is. Whereas last year he was in the background a little bit.”
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