Blues begin State of Origin preparations early
Desperate to end Queensland's stranglehold on State of Origin, NSW began their earliest ever preparations for the interstate series on Friday - 131 days before the opening game.
In the middle of summer on a day when temperatures in Sydney climbed into the mid-30s, England and Australia continued cricket's oldest feud at the Gabba and the world's best tennis players battled it out at Melbourne Park in the year's first major, NSW coach Laurie Daley called his players into camp in Sydney.
Queensland will begin their quest for a ninth successive series win at Suncorp Stadium on May 28 and Daley said the two-day camp attended by a host of NSW stars was about strengthening the Blues culture.
"We don't get an opportunity to get the players together too often," Daley told AAP.
"When a series is over you just move on with your club commitments then get together a week out from Origin the next year and it just starts all over again. I just wanted to make sure we get everyone together.
"There are players outside of this group here today who can play Origin, I'm not just saying these guys are there but these guys have been here the last couple of years and it's just a matter of debriefing on what happened last year and continuing to work on our culture and our behaviours and all we need to do to beat Queensland this year.
"Everyone always enjoys their time together in representative camp so for the boys who have been together in the system it's like a big happy family.
"It is great to see the boys back together and we will have a dinner tonight and work on a few things together and hopefully this is the start of what can be a successful year for us."
Captain Paul Gallen said the Blues were aiming to put together the most comprehensive preparation for an Origin series ever.
"It's obviously a bit year for us and Laurie wants to leave no stone unturned in our preparation and I think that's pretty important," Gallen said.
"We are coming up to the first game, the 100th game in Origin history so it is going to be a huge occasion and we want to be as well prepared as we can be.
I think we are going into camp a couple of days later possibly this year so when we get in there we want to hit the ground running."