BRISBANE - Laurie Daley admits he made mistakes in his first State of Origin series as NSW coach but believes his side couldn't be in better shape for game one on Wednesday.
Daley's relatively inexperienced team, which contains two debutants and five players with less than five Origins to their name, is looking to beat the Maroons in a live game at Suncorp Stadium for the first time in nine years.
On their last visit to Brisbane Daley's side were beaten 26-6 following a horror build-up to the game that saw Jarryd Hayne ruled out with injury, Blake Ferguson and Josh Dugan caught up in an incident at bar in Cronulla and prop James Tamou stood down for high-range drink-driving. Ferguson was arrested and charged with indecent assault and his place in the side taken by South Sydney winger Nathan Merritt who endured a poor debut as he crumbled under the weight of expectation.
Fast forward 12 months and Daley has no injury worries in camp and a happy and focused group of players following his decision to move the team away from Sydney to Coffs Harbour.
"You learn a lot from you first series, but there is no magic formula," Daley said at the team hotel in Brisbane on Tuesday.
"Given the build to Origin, the focus, the media attention on the players it can be draining.
"You don't want to have played the game before it's actually on.
"There is a real awareness now to try and have a gradual build-up and have a focus closer to the game rather than have seven days.
"You notice that energy saps from players and that is something I learned from last year.
"I should have known better because I remember that as a player so I've been very conscious of that this year."
Daley's side won game one last year in Sydney but still lost the series 2-1, but he's well aware of the advantage they'd take into game two at home should they upset Mal Meninga's champion side.
"Ideally you'd like to win game one," he said.