Blues tight and compact
Game one players advantaged by shortened turnaround period
WIN or lose on Wednesday night, the entire NSW squad are in the box seat to be retained for game two due to the diminished training schedule associated with the first Sunday night Origin since 2001.
Blues players James Maloney and Jake Trbojevic have spoken of the congested sevenday — instead of the usual 10 — turnaround ahead of Origin II, which could include just two ballwork sessions.
Origin II will be held on June 24 at ANZ Stadium — the first Sunday fixture in 17 years.
All Origin players will have played in round 15 the previous weekend for their clubs, before NSW announces its team on Monday, June 18 for game two.
It will leave coach Brad Fittler, who has questioned whether the shortened buildup dilutes the Origin spectacle, and Queensland coach Kevin Walters with no time to polish new combinations.
In camp this week, Maloney has refused to waste a day in ensuring his rookie half Nathan Cleary is ready for Wednesday night. The 31-year-old playmaker admitted it would be difficult to start again and prepare for Origin II alongside a new halfback with potentially only two ball sessions.
“It will make what you do setting up this week even more important, because that is going to feed into the second camp,’’ Maloney told The Sun- day Telegraph. “If you have guys playing Sunday, you may not be able to do anything of high quality until Wednesday.
“It will be a short week, a couple of really good sessions and then into it.’’
Eight days before Origin II, Trbojevic’s Manly will face St George Illawarra on Saturday night, June 16 — with six current Blues involved. The Blues forward conceded that the build-up for Origin II could reflect an NRL week, when rest and recovery take priority over contact and ballwork sessions.
“It’s like a normal NRL week for us, but I guess in terms of an Origin preparation it’s a bit different,’’ Trbojevic said.
“For the guys that have played on Sunday, we’ll have a light run on Wednesday, a good run on Thursday and then the captain’s run on the Saturday.
“It definitely makes it im- portant to have those combinations sorted because there’s not as many sessions. Hopefully, once we get a game under our belt, everyone will be comfortable with each other.’’
Fittler spoke at the Blues’ team announcement on Monday night at The Star about the impact of a Sunday night Origin match.
“I know the second game is only seven days (preparation) and I’m not really sure that’s the way to go considering how important State of Origin is to a lot of people,’’ Fittler said.
“I know the league have got the second game within only a week (of the NRL round) and I’m not sure if that’s a great idea, in my eyes.’’