Reduced ticket prices and a soon-to-be-built centre of excellence have NSW Blues coach Laurie Daley and forward Trent Merrin looking forward to two packed houses at ANZ Stadium next year for the team's home Origin matches as NSW looks to claw the interstate trophy back from Queensland.
With some fans unhappy about the cost of Origin tickets last year, cut-price tickets are already available for the 2016 fixtures and Daley and Merrin each said a full contingent of home fans – led by the Blatchy's Blues supporter group – would flood ANZ Stadium with support for the home team.
Meanwhile a new purpose-built centre of excellence at the Homebush precinct should be ready for use by the 2018 Blues.
"It's very exciting, just looking at the ticketing prices and how far they've gone down to make it comfortable for families to go and bring kids to the games," Merrin said at ANZ Stadium on Wednesday after a meet-and-greet with some members of Blatchy's Blues.
"That's what it's all about, the future of the game and the kids. It's going to be exciting to look around and see all the Blatchy's Blues – there's no better feeling than to run out to a packed crowd. The NRL's heading in the right direction."
With NSW getting a once-in-three-years chance to host two home games, both Daley and Merrin were hoping to erase a disastrous 52-6 loss in the 2015 decider.
"It's always important to try and win your home games in Origin. They're so important. Hopefully Game One next year we'll have a packed house," Daley said.
"Origin is one of those games now where it is an event so a lot of people come. It's great that ticket pricing is affordable and we learned lessons [about pricing] from last year.
"You can get more people coming to the games, they can buy their tickets now as Christmas presents. Most people will come to Origin for an experience and they know they're going to get a great game and a great contest and hopefully the team they support wins!"
Merrin said after this year's defeat to Queensland the best way for the players to move ahead was to put in the hard work and play some good club football.
"It was a massive wake-up call and we've got a lot of hard work to do. The NSWRL is doing the right thing with the centre of excellence going in, they're doing everything they possibly can – it's on us players now to try and give the favour back," he said.
"I think that falls on us personally [to improve], we need to tie the boots up and do the hard work between here and there.
"I think that's how you forget about it and put some confidence back in yourself – play some great footy for your club then bring that style of footy into the NSW team and play the best style of footy you possibly can. I think that's the best way to forget about the past and move forward."
Image courtesy Robb Cox. Copyright: NRL Photos.