Put in the hard work and reap the rewards.
That’s the mentality of Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues’ Head of Performance Hayden Knowles on the eve of Game One, who says the squad is ‘prepped to the minute’ leading into the series-opening clash at Suncorp Stadium.
“One thing we do, we work hard. We start every camp hard, we really test their character and it brings them together,” Knowles told NSWRL.com.au at the Blues’ captain’s run training session at Suncorp Stadium.
“The mateship we develop and the character we see on show, it builds trust in each other. We had to lighten (the Blues’ training load) up mid-week, then go (up) again later in the week.
“It’s all about fine-tuning once we get up here to Brisbane.”
But just as important as the time spent on the training field is the attention to detail away from it.
Working tirelessly between sessions with an emphasis on physical recovery, the Blues’ high performance staff have the playing group primed for a big performance when they meet the Maroons in Origin I.
“Our guys are doing everything they can to recover well. Eating well, sleeping well… also of a night, all our boys are using the PainAway bath (recovery) salts,” Knowles said.
“PainAway helps them recover from the day, but it also helps them sleep better as well – which is crucial.
“PainAway serves a couple of different purposes in the guys’ processes between sessions and in leading up to an Origin match. Every one of us – players and staff – are using the salts.”
Running the eye over the squad’s physical shape as the Blues retreated to the Suncorp sheds at the end of Tuesday's training run, Knowles was quick to pin-point the physical attributes of a debutant dubbed the ‘Blues Giant’.
“Payne Haas – what a weapon. Some of the drills we’ve done this week has allowed us to see his character but also his discipline,” Knowles said.
“Other drills he’s expressed his power and his speed as well. He’s 120 kilograms of pure athleticism.
“I’ve been really impressed with him.”