2018 was a historic year for the Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues but today it was some of the states most exciting young talents who are planning to make history of their own in 2019.
The Emerging Blues squad, consisting of 23 current NRL players and future prospects, gathered at the NSWRL Centre of Excellence under the watchful eye of head coach and True Blue, Brad Fittler.
The camp was a prime opportunity for the players to immerse themselves in the culture that Fittler and his coaching staff have worked hard to instill, while also a chance to show their class as they lead into the new season.
My idea for them is to put pressure on the first team to see who's going to handle it under pressureBrad Fittler
Fittler lauded the efforts of the playing group, particularly the experience of Cameron McInnes and Mitch Moses who have already established themselves as regular first-graders.
"They were great, some of them are not so young these days," Fittler said.
"We've got some blokes there with a fair bit of experience, Mitchell Moses, Cam McInnes to name a couple.
"It would be disappointing if they didn't turn up with a lot of energy but the chat we had prior, you can see they're all very fit these days, so big and fit, so it was pretty pleasing from the coach's point of view.
While many suggest the success of the 2018 Origin series will make it tough for new players to break into the side, Fittler assured that strong form and a selfless team-first approach will make the race for a sky-blue jumper very competitive.
He mentioned how a shift in mentality of the playing group will be a key indicator for the squad moving forward.
"Well 11 of them broke into the first team last year so the big thing we talk about is just getting out there and playing hard for your team," Fittler said.
"Winning's hard but being the winner and being the hunted, like we will this year, is always harder to get up for.
"My idea for them is to put pressure on the first team to see who's going to handle it under pressure."
With Game One of the 2019 Series still seven months away, Fittler believes it was imperative for the players to get familiar with their surroundings and fellow team-mates to allow a seamless transition if they are to earn an Origin debut.
He also stressed the importance for having a good character off the field which will be just as important as their respective efforts on it, no matter how great they are.
"I hope it's special, the big thing is they're together so if they do manage to come together come May or June they've met each other," he said.
"That seems to be very important these days and it is very important. That's part of the reason why we get the guys together.
"We try to praise it about being a team player, you can do that in many different ways. So hopefully they took that on board."