BRISBANE- Experienced back-rower Anthony Watmough claims the team spirit in the current NSW side is the best he's experienced since making his State of Origin debut nine year ago.
Watmough played in one game in the last series won by the Blues in 2005, but has been in and out of the team ever since, finding himself the victim of the constant chopping and changing by selectors.
Tomorrow's clash in Brisbane will be only his 13th Origin appearance, and last year under Laurie Daley was the first time the Manly and Test star had played in all three games of a series.
The 30-year-old believes that because most of the same players have been in and around the team for the last three years a tight bond has formed and was strengthened by spending five days in camp in the unfamiliar surrounds of Coffs Harbour.
"I said to the boys last night, this is the closest team I've ever been a part of," Watmough said.
"I think what the boys have built over the last few years is really good mateship, really good friendship, and to come into camp and to be so natural it's really coming out on the field.
"We've been training excellent. The last few camps it's been a little bit stop start and not knowing your role but this one it's been short and sharp from the start."
The Blues played in an opposed session with a representative side from the Group 3 competition in their last serious work out before jetting in to Brisbane on Sunday afternoon on a chartered flight from Coffs.
Training has largely been closed to the media this week and Watmough said that has added to the professional feel that was somewhat missing when using public facilities in the Sydney beachside suburb of Coogee.
"We can run through our plays as much as we want with no defenders, but until you actually run through them (the plays) with defenders and see what you need to work on, you're just going through the motions," he said.