New South Wales to delay naming State of Origin squad in 2014
The Daily Telegraph
January 28, 2014 11:55PM
NEW South Wales will this year ditch their traditional Sunday night team announcement, preferring to delay naming the squad by 48 hours in a bid to sharpen player focus ahead of each Origin match.
The move is one of a host of changes endorsed by new NSWRL supremo Dave Trodden, who has declared the Blues needed to embrace a "more professional" set-up to maximise their chances of ending Queensland's eight-year reign.
Coach Laurie Daley has already announced the team will enter pre-match camps in Coffs Harbour and Sydney Olympic Park, abandoning their customary Coogee base for the second time in the past four years.
Other new measures include:
â Appointing a neutral high performance analyst, Dr Craig Duncan, to replace St George Illawarra's Andrew Gray. Duncan currently works at Sydney FC.
â Streamlining Daley's assistant coaching staff to improve communication channels. Brad Fittler and Matt Parish are the only members of last year's squad, which also included Blues greats Jim Dymock and Trent Barrett, who are guaranteed roles in 2014.
â A desire to conduct all field sessions at ANZ Stadium prior to Game II in Sydney.
The most radical change, however, is the decision to fall into line with Queensland and announce the team on the Tuesday - rather than Sunday night - in the week before each of the three rubbers.
Maroons selectors have long felt they enjoyed an advantage knowing the opposition team two days in advance, enabling them to digest and counter any shock selections from south of the Tweed.
But Trodden yesterday said the shift was primarily designed to prevent distraction for Blues players involved in Monday night NRL fixtures, and also the potential for others to let their hair down on the eve of camp.
NSW officialdom received a sobering lesson on the second point last year, when centre Blake Ferguson was embroiled in a sexual assault claim while celebrating his selection with team mate Josh Dugan. Ferguson was dropped from the team, and has since been found guilty.
"Naming the team on Sunday nights has caused distractions for those selected who still have to play on the Monday, so it's also unfair on their clubs," Trodden said.
"The flip side is that some players who've already played that weekend know the first day of camp is generally not too arduous, and could make the wrong choice."
It's likely the team announcement will also replicate Queensland's recent move to transform the event into a gala function involving sponsors and supporters.
Trodden is hoping to host each Tuesday announcement at separate locations in Sydney, possibly as a breakfast, lunch and dinner.
He said the departure from Coogee, where NSW returned in 2011 after a two-year absence under Craig Bellamy, was designed to place the team in a professional environment akin to what their clubs offer.
"We've been training on a public field and in a public gym, where punters often come up to players while they're lifting weights," Trodden said.
"That's probably going backwards from what they're used to at their clubs, whereas at this elite level we should be offering players a more professional set-up.
"Because the camp at Coffs Harbour (Novotel) has hosted so many high profile sports teams, they also offer tailored menus for athletes rather than a generic buffet, which is what the boys have been eating the past few years."