Blues Hit The Ground Running
The NSW Origin team has completed their first training session of the 2017 series after settling into their new base at Kingcliff on the far NSW north coast with injured centre Josh Dugan showing no ill-effects of a fractured cheekbone.
The camp is the team's first away from Coffs Harbour since 2013, with the initial switch to Coffs coinciding with a drought-breaking series win.
The first session saw Dugan running around during attacking and defensive drills a little under three weeks after suffering a fractured cheekbone in a head-clash with Dragons teammate Russell Packer in the May 5 Anzac Test.
While there was no contact component of the session – at least in the part open to media – Dugan looked unencumbered from the operation to mend the fracture with a plate, with no swelling or bruising remaining.
Skipper Boyd Cordner and winger Brett Morris each sat out the warm-up, doing leg stretches with elastic ropes but the move was described as precautionary.
Halfback Mitch Pearce looked sharp early on, demanding the ball at first receiver in attacking drills.
Before the session, winger Blake Ferguson told media he had no doubt his centre partner would play next Wednesday night.
"He's playing," Ferguson said.
"For him, he knows he's playing so he doesn't have to worry about any of the outside noise. He had a fitness test the other day and pulled up sweet so he's fine.
"He'll be fine to train. It's three weeks [since the injury] so he’ll be fine."
Earlier, the team got together on Monday night after learning of their call-ups on Sunday; a Monday night team meeting saw each player, whether it be 20-gamer Jarryd Hayne, skipper Boyd Cordner or debutant Nathan Peats, asked to stand up and tell the group what Origin meant to them.
Ferguson spoke about playing for his family and doing a job for his teammates; Peats was reportedly emotional in his address ahead of his long-awaited debut; Maloney said he knew the feeling after tearing up at a similar meeting in 2016 but gave similar reasons to Ferguson.
"Family is a pretty big reason why you play the game," Maloney said.
"You want to be able to come off and make the people that you care about and care about you proud and the state proud and things like that. There's a fair bit. It was a good little meeting.
"It makes you aware to see how much it means to different players. It's got to because you hit sometimes there where it gets tough and there's got to be something driving you and it's nice to know the boys are in 100 per cent behind you.
"Different guys get emotional at times which is good. It means they care and that's important."
The Blues will look to ramp up preparations in their second field session on Thursday morning before the player rest day on Friday.
This article first appeared on NRL.com