INSIDE ORIGIN | Saturday 8 July
VB Blues centre Josh Dugan has put his hand up to help those suffering mental health issues. The Dragon tragically lost a family member and a friend to suicide when he was growing up – and he’s determined to make a difference. "I feel like I've got a little bit of experience in that aspect and suffering from anxiety myself I thought it was a good time to help people and jump on board to break that stigma,” Dugan told NRL.com. "There are a lot of people out there that a couple of years ago would have been afraid to help where as I think now we're starting to break down that wall.”
This weekend looms as something of a D-day for Laurie Daley and his injured stars. Earlier in the week the VB Blues coach nominated Saturday and Sunday as the cut-offs for at least some of his injured stars – if there are to be changes to his side, as a result of injury, expect them soon. Boyd Cordner, Tyson Frizell and James Tedesco are under the greatest injury clouds, although the latter two were involved in Thursday night’s hit-out against Tweed Heads. (A True Blues legend, who has seen NSW training sessions, is adamant our captain will play, though.) Don’t forget, for all the latest news as it happens stay locked on www.NSWRL.com.au.
Back to it
After a day off – one which several stars including Jarryd Hayne and Andrew Fifita enjoyed by shopping and playing computer games – the VB Blues are back to training as preparations ramp-up to Wednesday’s decider. (No doubt Nathan Peats, who welcomed his second child into the world a day ago, would've appreciated the rest!) Training intensity will lift as the game draws closer, with a field session this morning followed by recovery and an optional gym session. The players don’t head north until Tuesday, as per Origin I.
After they finally disclosed their positional 17, Queensland players spent some time yesterday explaining how the side would work… with regular bench utility Michael Morgan slotting into the centres. "I don't think it's a gamble. It makes sense with his combination with the Melbourne guys to have [Munster at five-eighth]," Morgan said. It will be fascinating to see how the Queensland combinations gel on Wednesday night – but, with an all-Melbourne Maroons spine, perhaps it’s seeing how those players in peripheral positions slot in that will prove most interesting.
Massive news for the women’s game too, with elite female Rugby League players to receive professional contracts to represent NSW in the annual Interstate Challenge, their own Origin-like match. It’s a landmark announcement that will go down in the history of women’s Rugby League.
Today the VB Blues’ Brett Morris and Wade Graham face the media, with plenty of questions likely to be raised about the Maroons’ line-up. The Queenslanders, meanwhile, have a day off. As always, catch these press conferences in full on www.NSWRL.com.au
Blues’ backed – with a warning
Legendary NSW hardman Ian Roberts predicts Daley’s men will reign supreme on Wednesday – but he has a warning for the Blues, too. The tough-as-nails front- and second-rower helped the sky blues to a famous series win in the third match of 1994. He sees some similarities in the 2017 side. “Because Thurston’s out, I think that does open up a few more options for NSW; it gives them a little bit more time in defence,” Roberts told us in an exclusive, in-depth interview. “I think that could be the obstacle that Queensland can’t recover from. In saying that, that’s been said a thousand times before as well.” Roberts is always wary of those Maroons. “I’m sure Laurie appreciates that it ain’t over until the bell goes,” Roberts adds. “I think in the second game, NSW would’ve learned incredibly from that, it seemed to me that they were trying to defend their lead.”
Join the conversation
Are you following the NSW VB Blues on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram? You should be! Each channel publishes its own exclusive content, meaning if you’re not following each of them – and making www.NSWRL.com.au your homepage – you’re not getting the latest insights on the NSW VB Blues! (You can download the NSWRL app too, where we’ll send the latest information and breaking news direct to your handset.)