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Blues find the key to Origin success

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Update: 7:00PM The Blues are convinced they've discovered the key to a drought-breaking State of Origin series victory - and it has nothing to do with Jarryd Hayne or any new halves pairing.

For all Hayne's heroics in game one in Brisbane and the steadying hands of Josh Reynolds and Trent Hodkinson, the Blues believe it is the "brotherhood" fostered at their Coffs Harbour hideaway that has NSW one tantalising win away from ending Queensland's record eight-year reign.

The Blues returned to their north coast base camp on Tuesday night and Hodkinson on Wednesday hailed Laurie Daley's decision to relocate the squad six hours' drive from Sydney as a coaching masterstroke.

Hodkinson was adamant the Blues wouldn't have held the Maroons out and won the series opener at Suncorp Stadium had the squad not bonded in relative isolation of the serene beachside town renamed "Blues Harbour" by Coffs Harbour mayor Denise Knight.

"It brings us away from all the hype. It's nice and relaxed up here and you can't go out and about so it keeps us nice and tight as a group," Hodkinson said.

"It's nothing like down there. It definitely brings the team together. That's one thing that stood out last camp.

"Everyone hung out together away from training and stuff, which is what you need in a footy side.

"I think it showed in game one. When we were on our tryline, we wanted to work for each other and we created that brotherhood.

"If that wasn't there, they would have put points on us. They threw everything at us but we had each other's backs."

So unexpectedly successful was Daley's ploy that he urged team management to make the 11th-hour decision to allow the Blues to hot foot it back to Coffs Harbour even after packing up all the team's equipment before game one.

Stealing a move from the Maroons' playbook, NSW are threatening to regain interstate bragging rights from new-found mateship garnered virtually on the Queensland doorstep.

"You can just say it, but it's there and the feeling around the squad is really good. Everyone's tight," Hodkinson said.

"Up here at Coffs has made it even better. That's the feel I'm getting."

Adding to the confidence is the return of one of the original "Blues Brothers" - back-rower Greg Bird - after missing the 12-8 win in Brisbane through suspension.

Along with recalled three-quarters Josh Dugan and Will Hopoate, Bird trained with the Blues on Wednesday for the first time this series.

"When you look around, you know how Greg Bird is going to play. He's won many man-of-the-matches for NSW," said fellow Blues forward Ryan Hoffman.

"I don't know how many Origin games he's got but it's a hell of a lot.

"So it's just great having a bloke of his confidence in the team and on the training field.

"But also off the field too, he's good mates with quite a few of us so just having him around the camp is fantastic."

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