BRISBANE, - An emotional Laurie Daley says NSW 12-8 win over Queensland to open a 1-0 lead in the State of Origin series was the finest performance he's been involved in during his illustrious career.
The Blues coach, who has skippered the state to a series win in Queensland, admitted he was emotionally drained from the experience and backed his side to go on and finish the job in game two in three weeks' time.
"In the past it's always been the opposition they talk about, well they should now talk about us."
"We had a truckload of injuries who should have come off in the first half but stayed out there because we needed them to.
"Origin is about hanging tough that performance under duress is as good as I have been associated with. It was an A grade performance."
Skipper Paul Gallen said the final 15 minutes when Queensland laid siege to his side's line was the hardest of his long career and hailed the defensive effort of his team.
"The second half was one of toughest games I have been in," he said.
"They really aimed up as they are a great side.
"They were winning territorial battle, but we just kept scrambling."
"There's three games and we have to win more and will go to Sydney with confidence.
Jarryd Hayne was named man of the match following a scintillating display that saw him sizzle in attack in the first half by setting up a Brett Morris try and scoring one of his own.
In the second he excelled in attack and made a try-saving play to deny Chris McQueen by getting his fingertips to a Johnathan Thurston grubber-kick before the back-rower could pounce.
"He was outstanding," Daley said.
"But for us it's about our team.
Maroons coach Mal Meninga admitted the loss of Cooper Cronk with a broken arm early in the first half was blow, but said Daly Cherry-Evans was more than up to the task of replacing the halfback.
"It was a great game, the effort from both sides was fantastic," Meninga said.
"We tried hard, missed a few opportunities, two tries all and unfortunately Johnathan missed a kick.
""We're lucky we have Daly, but it does throw you off as it leaves your bench down to three and in this environment it was tough for the players.