Having doubled their career preparation together by virtue of a second week in camp, the new-look spine of NSW is aiming to be more attacking and less timid when they run out for the must-win second Origin at Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday night.
While the Blues' defence was solid in Game I – conceding just one try in 80 minutes to the vaunted Maroons' attacking arsenal – they struggled to take their own opportunities in the 6-4 loss and halfback Adam Reynolds concedes they may have been gingerly feeling each other out in their first ever game as a combination.
"Game One we had to come up with a game plan that suited us. We started off a bit ginger but coming into Game II we soon picked that up. Towards the back end of the [first two] sessions I thought the quality was high," Reynolds said from Blues camp in Coffs Harbour.
"We need to take our opportunities when we get them. We had a few opportunities [in Game I] where if the pass had gone to hand we score or we give ourselves a better opportunity to put another attacking play on.
"The process is similar to Game I. Defence is important, we can't go away from that, we know we have to turn up at Suncorp ready to defend. They're going to throw a lot at us and they'll have a massive supporter base behind them. For us it's about growing in confidence every day at training and referring that out to the field."
He said his combinations with halves partner James Maloney and fullback Matt Moylan would ramp up after an extra camp together.
"We learned a lot in Game I. We've come together now for the second time. I feel comfortable playing with Jimmy. He's a great player who's done a lot at club level. I thought we combined well in Game I without taking it to the next step," Reynolds said.
"[Moylan] is another set of eyes and another ball player. He definitely adds a lot of value to myself and Jimmy and he only enhances our attack."
The additional week means a chance to grow a bit more and hopefully learn from their mistakes in Game I.
"We've got a week to build on our combinations there and get a bit clearer with each other and learn from what happened in Game I," he added.
Moylan told NRL.com he personally felt even better prepared having been through the process once and was grateful coach Laurie Daley had stuck with the same playmakers for Game II.
"It's good we've got pretty much the same side going into this game. I think it's going to be easier for us to gel and work on those combinations," Moylan said.
"We'll only get better now we've got the opportunity to work on them again throughout this camp, we're not starting from square one. I think that's definitely going to help our preparation going into this game."
Maloney also hoped the team would be better at taking its opportunities in Game II but cautioned against losing focus on the defensive side of things in the hunt for more points.
"We probably had some opportunities that we didn't quite ice and if we ice those opportunities we win the footy game and you're not asking us how we score points. That's the biggest thing," he said.
"I think there's signs we can play more football. I don't think it's an issue, we need to defend well again.
"I think we did it pretty well, we had that one lapse and being such a good side they capitalised and took that opportunity and that's probably the only opportunity they got throughout the whole game and I thought we probably created a few others and couldn't turn them into points."
He agreed the NSW team had more room for improvement than their northern counterparts by virtue of being such a new side.
"At the start of the series we knew we'd get better game by game, spending more time. Coming in this week we don't have to start from scratch, we can just pick up from where we left off and hopefully develop it a little bit further. I think so and we're going to have to be to be honest," he said.
"We're going up against a really good side at Suncorp Stadium, it's a big challenge and we're going to have to be better than we were Game I."
With a dry track expected compared to game one, strike centre Michael Jennings is hoping for a slightly more expansive game plan so he can see more ball out wide.
"We've had a look at the video and we need to take more opportunities. We need to execute our plays better. I guess more ball would be good, depending on how things are going through the game, but I definitely want more ball so hopefully it happens," Jennings said.
"It obviously makes it easier if it's a bit drier; you can move the ball around a bit better. Jimmy and 'Reyno' are starting to gel pretty well at training and they'll be fine when it comes to game day. It always helps when it's a bit drier."
Reynolds however said the ball would only be flung out wide if the team earned the right to play some footy through their work in the middle.
"We need to earn the right to do that first. We need to build momentum through the middle," Reynolds said.
"We can't just be giving them ball for the sake of it. We need to make the most of our opportunities. No doubt if it is a bit quick they'll be seeing some ball."
This article first appeared on NRL.com
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