New South Wales coach Laurie Daley has expressed his gratitude to Steve Hansen and the All Blacks for the part they played helping the Blues win this year's State of Origin series.
Daley spent time in the inner sanctum of the All Blacks environment late last year, getting an unmatched insight into the world's most successful international team.
Speaking in Auckland last week for the announcement of date of next year's Auckland Nines, which is January 31-February 1, Daley told Sunday News it was a huge learning experience for him to see how the All Blacks and Hansen work and the knowledge he gained was invaluable in helping defeat Queensland.
"I took a great deal from it," Daley told Sunday News.
"Matt Parish, my assistant, and myself were able to spend a week with them and we gained a lot out of it.
"For a couple of young coaches, to be able to sit in that environment and learn from great coaches was pretty special.
"Not being rugby union people and knowing the ins and outs of their game, but to be able to sit there and watch how they operate, certainly was a big part of helping us develop as coaches and gave us some really good ideas on how we wanted to operate our camps."
Daley says it was good to be able to talk openly with the All Blacks about how they do things, without fear of information they were giving out being used by opposition teams against them in the future.
"There are some things there that we do really well and there are some things that we can improve on," he said.
"Some of the ideas we got from the All Blacks were first class.
"For us, that's great because we're not in opposition with them, so what you learn you don't give away too much, so you use it to your own advantage and we did that.
"You can see why they're such a great organisation because they're very professional from the top to the bottom and their coaching staff have been very helpful.
"They really gave us an insight into how a highly professional organisation does its business."
Meanwhile, Daley predicts the Nines will be a better spectacle next year, now everyone has a grasp on what it's all about.
"I think it will be completely different to what it was at the start of this year," Daley said.
"Going into the tournament this year, no one had experienced nines before, there was apprehension and people didn't know how it was going to be played or how it would be received.
"But after sellout crowds, the quality of the football, the players enjoying it and knowing it was a well- run competition, where there was plenty of fun and it being a great way to kickstart the season without it having the intensity of a first-grade trial.
"The message I'm sure the coaches will have for the players next year is to embrace it, support it and get right behind it, because it's a great way to engage with fans and continue to grow the game."
Daley felt it was the teams that defended the best that rose to the top in the nines and he says next year clubs could get to the point where they'll try out ideas in nines with a view to using them in the NRL season.
"I know that no one was quite sure how to play nines to start with," he said.
"But as they went along they worked out that there was more structure to it than what they thought.
"I would think there would be more time and effort go into it this year and then maybe some of those things could be taken into the 13-man game. I'm not quite sure whether it will translate or not, but I'm sure there will be things they'll work on and say ‘hey, maybe this will be something we can have a crack at in the nines and see it it will work in the 13-man games."'
- Sunday News
Who is your pick for international league player of the year?Related story: (See story)