Blues coach Laurie Daley is hoping a new centre of excellence at Sydney Olympic Park will give his side a leg up in the 2017 Origin series but it will be a while until we know which player will lead the team into the post-Paul Gallen era.
Long-serving Blues skipper Gallen finished his Origin career with a win in Game Three this year but it came at the end of another series of 'what ifs' where Queensland again won the big moments on the way to a 10th series win in 11 years.
Current Blues vice captain Robbie Farah's career is in temporary limbo after being demoted to the Intrust Super Premiership by club coach Jason Taylor but he is the most senior of the possible candidates vying for next year's Blues captaincy.
His clubmate and current Tigers skipper Aaron Woods is another in the frame, while Roosters back-rower Boyd Cordner has been touted as a possible future captain for some time and was players' player in Game One.
Bulldog Josh Jackson has emerged as a real leader of the Blues squad while the returning Jarryd Hayne will – assuming he is selected – be the most-capped Blue in next year's series. It may be too early in his Origin career but Shark Wade Graham has leadership credentials while his clubmate James Maloney is a senior figure as well.
Daley said a call would be made at least a month out from next year's series but was in no rush to make it earlier than that. He will seek input from as many sources as possible before making a recommendation to the NSWRL board, who need to rubber-stamp the appointment.
"We'll let whoever it is know a month or two beforehand, as long as they're fit," Daley said at a ceremony to launch the soon-to-be-built NSWRL Centre of Excellence next to ANZ Stadium on Wednesday.
There is a risk of naming someone too soon only to see them get injured so it will be a wait and see to some extent, Daley added.
"There's a great responsibility with being the captain. I'm sure that we'll talk about that with them and work through anything that they need any help with and see how they go from there," he said.
"I have the recommendation but the board, they have to sign off on who the captain will be."
Daley said he will seek counsel from plenty of sources, including outgoing captain Paul Gallen, the club coaches of any candidates, other players in the system as well as NSWRL colleagues.
Of Farah, Daley said he'd just like to see him back playing football before considering him for a leadership role because at the moment his situation at the Tigers "obviously is not working."
"He's got to make a decision on what he wants to do and then whether he stays in Sydney or the NRL or goes overseas, that'll be up to him. Until he makes a decision, you won't know," Daley said.
"He has been a big part of our team, but I want to make sure that he's happy with whatever decision he comes to. When he makes that decision, then we'll know what direction we're going in."
Of Hayne's chances, Daley said the former Eel and San Francisco 49er may have been a better chance had he not spent close to two years out of the sport pursuing careers in the NFL and Rugby Sevens.
"He's a guy that's very senior and a player that people follow. He might've been someone we may have looked at," Daley said.
"But at the moment I wouldn't like to put that sort of pressure on him. The guys that stand out from this year's series have been your Woods, Cordners, Josh Jacksons, your Wade Grahams, the younger breed that are coming through. They're the guys you look to as your next leader. They're all in the frame but that won't be decided until next year."
Woods said while he'd like to captain his state one day it's not something he's thinking about at the moment,
"I'm captain of the Tigers at the moment and I've got to focus on that. I could be injured when Origin comes around next year or playing bad footy so I've just got to keep playing consistent footy and hopefully I'm in the frame of mind for Laurie to pick for captain," Woods said.
"You've got other players coming back like Jarryd Hayne, Robbie Farah's still there. They're all the senior blokes as well."
This article first appeared on NRL.com