'New Direction': Daley Backs Peats
NSW Origin coach Laurie Daley was shattered for Peter Wallace after a groin injury ruled the tough Panther out of a long-awaited recall to State of Origin, but has backed feisty Titans rake Nathan Peats to carry the Blues following the demotion of long-serving Blues hooker Robbie Farah.
Daley was hugely supportive of Farah's response to the news his Origin career is over, but wanted to look to a new style of play that would suit halves Mitchell Pearce and James Maloney and, given Wallace's untimely groin strain, opted for Peats to make his long-awaited interstate debut.
Daley did not rule out Wallace – who is set to miss roughly four to six weeks with a groin strain picked up against the Knights in the final NRL match before Origin teams were named – featuring at some point in the series if needed.
"I was very disappointed for Wally," Daley said at the naming of the Blues side at The Star on Monday night after the untimely injury robbed Wallace of a recall having played the last of his four Origins in 2009.
"He waited a long time before he got another opportunity but hopefully he can get himself right and he may figure at some other point."
Daley has coached Peats a number of times in the Indigenous All Stars fixture and was a big fan of the former Eel's toughness and competitiveness.
"Just his tenacity; he's a real competitor, he's a guy that will fight for everything," Daley said.
"He's a guy that I've got a huge amount of respect for. I've coached him over a number of years in the All Stars team and I know he's a professional and I know he prepares well and you know what you're going to get.
"You know Peatsy will get through a huge amount of work, he'll be competitive and he'll give it everything he's got."
While Peats is no stranger to playing 80 minutes at hooker at NRL level, he will be tested like never before in his Origin debut at Suncorp. Daley said it was ideal for an Origin hooker to stay on the field for 80 but added the team had "options". These would include utility Jack Bird spending time at dummy half in attack or versatile back-rower Josh Jackson subbing in for a spell.
"You probably want your hooker to play 80 but we all know the intensity and the pace of Origin and he's making his debut so he's got to be careful he doesn't use all his juice early and he's got to make sure he can pace himself through the game as well but if he doesn't we'll have other options there," Daley said.
He added it was a difficult conversation letting Farah know the team had moved in a new direction.
"Robbie's been a mainstay of our team but we just felt with the style of footy we want to play it will give us every opportunity for us to be at our best so basically that was the reason," Daley said.
"I spoke to him [Sunday] night and as you would expect he was disappointed but totally supportive.
"The thing I loved about Robbie, he said 'mate can you pass on my regards to the boys and make sure they know I'm 100 per cent behind them, I want them to go up there and win'.
"That's the type of bloke he is and that's the type of message you send out to the team. It shows how much playing for NSW means to him but it also shows you how much of a connection he has with the group here because he knows a lot of these players and he knows they want success."
This article first appeared on NRL.com