Nervous times for Blues coach Laurie Daley
ON Wednesday week, Laurie Daley reaches a NSW State of Origin landmark.
It's nothing exceptional mind you, but is a ground-breaking achievement of sorts for the Blues.
Daley will become the second longest-serving NSW Origin coach, in just his 10th game in charge. He will surpass the trio of Craig Bellamy, Wayne Pearce and Ricky Stuart, but sits behind Phil Gould (24 games), who is regarded as the best of the Blues' coaches, and has also been the most successful.
But winning as a coach at Origin level, not longevity, is the goal.
And unless Daley can snare the upcoming series his tenure may well end at a dozen.
Later today he names his team for game one, and if his opinions expressed on NRL 360 last week are a barometer, he will coach a team about which he has many ifs, buts and maybes.
Five days ago he was still open minded on as many as half a dozen positions.
Unlike his rookie Queensland counterpart Kevin Walters, Daley is the sole Blues selector. He has Immortal Bob Fulton in his corner as an advisor, but the buck stops firmly with the 23-game NSW Origin legend.
And while he may have had success once in his past three series as coach, the fact NSW has lost nine of the past 10 means no one in the Blues corner will be safe if they are beaten again.
On the surface Daley appears jovial and calm, but he has to be one very Nervous Nellie.
His coaching career will more than likely live or die on the team he announces today.
Walters, his cheeky counterpart, faces no such dilemma, although after nine of 10 series wins by the Maroons the rookie coach will still be feeling some heat at his first opportunity. But unlike Daley, he has co-selectors Des Morris and Darren Lockyer to share the load of responsibility.
And if his newspaper column last Friday is any indication, former coach Mal Meninga still covets an imprimatur on the Maroons, despite moving on to the Kangaroos job. Although most would agree with the team he selected, Meninga was somewhat out of order in going public with his thoughts.
For what it's worth, here are the respective Origin teams I would pick for game one:
Maroons: Darius Boyd, Corey Oates, Greg Inglis, Justin O'Neill, Kyle Feldt, Johnathan Thurston, Cooper Cronk, Matt Scott, Cameron Smith, Nate Myles, Josh Papalii, Matt Gillett, Corey Parker. Interchange: Michael Morgan, Sam Thaiday, Josh McGuire, Aiden Guerra.
Blues: Matt Moylan, Josh Mansour, Michael Jennings, Josh Dugan, Blake Ferguson, James Maloney, Adam Reynolds, James Tamou, Michael Ennis, Aaron Woods, Beau Scott, Greg Bird, Paul Gallen. Interchange: Jack Bird, David Klemmer, Boyd Cordner, Bryce Cartwright.
And it's the Maroons to win, yet again.
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