Blues tight and com­pact

Game one play­ers ad­van­taged by short­ened turnaround pe­riod

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - NRL - DAVID RIC­CIO CHIEF SPORTS WRITER

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.’’

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