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Bringing back the toughness: Maguire

Westpac NSW Blues coach Michael Maguire said he and his squad had been drawing on the toughness and reputation of former players in preparation for the 2024 Ampol State of Origin series.

Maguire was in Melbourne today alongside True Blue Ben Elias, who 30 years ago was part of the  1994 Game Two victory over Queensland (14-0) played at the MCG. NSW went on to win the series 2-1 – their third straight (1992, 1993, 1994).

This year Game Two will be held at the MCG once again on Wednesday 26 June.

Maguire recalled the grit of Origin players during the 1990s like Elias and those from his former club the Canberra Raiders - Glenn Lazarus, Laurie Daley, Ricky Stuart, Ken Nagus, Brett Mullins.

“That era to me is what I see and understand the Blues stand for – a really tough group of people,” Maguire said.

“With this current playing group we’ve talked a lot about building something that NSW can be really proud of, wherever you are in NSW.

“We as a group see NSW as a tough place to live at times so let’s represent that. And let’s represent the good times too like in the early 1990s when we had such a good group of players.

True Blue Benny Elias with Westpac NSW head coach Michael Maguire. Photos: NRL
True Blue Benny Elias with Westpac NSW head coach Michael Maguire. Photos: NRL

“I can remember NSW was buzzing through that period, when they were able to do back-to-back series wins. The whole state was up and running behind the team.

“To be able to create those sorts of feelings with the current crop of players is something they’re very keen for.

“Over periods of time sometimes that feeling can get lost if results don’t go your way.

“But what I’ve felt from this current playing group and how they are about the Blues jersey makes me look forward to coming camp.”

Earlier this year Maguire brought together a squad of 35 players to begin his preparations ahead of Game One at Sydney’s Accor Stadium on Wednesday 5 June.

Today he said it was not necessarily a clean slate for his team selections.

“I think it’s a re-set – that’s the best way I’d describe it,” Maguire said.

“Look over the last few years there’s been a lot of good things happening.

“It’s being able to take that forward what all the coaches over the last 10 years or so have done. I’ve been able to chat with those guys and that’s been very important for me.”

Maguire would not be drawn on his halves combination, acknowledging that Nathan Cleary (hamstring) and Mitchell Moses (foot) were rehabbing injuries.  

“This next couple of months is really important for everyone available,” he said.

“I guess I’ll keep a lot of chatter around the players close to myself. That’s how I like it.

“I’ll be in constant dialogue with the players performing well and playing consistently, in terms of what I want from those guys.”


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New South Wales Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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