The NSW State of Origin squad concluded their six-daypre-match camp in Coffs Harbour with a vigorous session against a combinedlocal side before flying to Brisbane on Sunday.
The opposing players were drawn from the Group 3 RugbyLeague competition, which runs under the auspices of Country Rugby League inthe area of northern NSW coast from Part Macquarie down to Forster and alsoincluding Taree.
The Blues were put through a final training session behindclosed doors before media were allowed access to the Coffs Harbour Novotel'sElite Training Centre to view the opposed session, which ran for just over 20minutes.
The Blues worked on both attacking and defensive structures,with new halves pairing Trent Hodkinson and Josh Reynolds controlling proceedings. There were plenty of kicks sent the way of both wingers in bothattack and defence and the forwards defensively looked slick in the middleduring the contact session.
A couple of the country players looked a touch rusty andproduced a few handling errors – possibly a combination of nerves at the highprofile of the men opposing them and the fact they had played for their Group 3sides a day earlier.
The cries of frustration when those handling errors didhappen underscored the importance of the session for both groups; neither setof players was there for a muck-around.
The final piece of the session involved the Blues receivingline drop outs and attacking the line, with slick ball movement resulting inwingers Brett Morris and Daniel Tupou crossing for several tries.
The fina lplay of the session saw halfback Trent Hodkinson ice a field goal from 30 metresout. Admittedly, it was under less pressure than he will face if called upon todo the same on Wednesday night but he looks like he could boot them in hissleep at the moment.
After the session, back-rower Anthony Watmough toldreporters the players drew plenty from it.
"We can run through our plays as much as we want withno defenders but until you actually run through [the plays] with defenders andsee what you need to work on you're just going through the motions," hesaid.
"We got a lot out of today, we know where we're at, weknow where we sit. We take heaps out of these, you need them. If you're justrunning against no-one, then you go out there on Wednesday and when thingsstart going against you, you don't know what you're doing and you don't knowhow to get out of it, but with these it certainly helps."
Despite the well-reported lack of a boozy bonding sessionthis year, Watmough said the 2014 camp is the closest Origin team he's everbeen a part of.
"I think what the boys have built over the last fewyears is really good mateship, really good friendship, and to come into campand to be so natural – it's really coming out on the field," he said.
"We've been training excellent. The last few camps it'sbeen a little bit stop start and not knowing your role but this one it's beenshort and sharp from the start."
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