IN THE HOT SEAT: NSW coach Laurie Daley leads players out for Blues' captain's run at Cbus Super Stadium yesterday.
IN THE HOT SEAT: NSW coach Laurie Daley leads players out for Blues' captain's run at Cbus Super Stadium yesterday. DAVE HUNT

Daley backs his rookie skipper to stand tall

BLUES coach Laurie Daley says he has no concerns about his rookie captain Boyd Cordner being able to stand up to the referees if Queensland's master tactician Cameron Smith tries to exert his influence on the State of Origin series-opener.

Wily Maroons captain Smith will run out in his 40th Origin game and while some south of the border have concerns he exerts an influence through his running dialogue with officials, Daley said he had faith Cordner would step in if necessary.

Cordner's predecessor, Paul Gallen, was quick to let officials know if he thought Smith was overstepping his mark but Daley said he had not asked Cordner to be a policeman.

"You can't manipulate captains. He'll learn as he goes and I'm sure he'll do a good job," Daley said.

"With Boyd, I don't want him to be like Gal. I want him to be his own man, his own style. If he doesn't feel comfortable doing that type of thing, don't do it.

"The best thing we can have Boyd Cordner do is play well and play to his ability and if he does that, that'll be good enough. I think Boydo, if he needs to, can go and approach the refs.

"But you'd like to think that the refs are pretty smart and they know that some players push the boundaries and some get away with it.

"Cameron's a great player and he's a great leader and he's someone that pushes those boundaries and gets away with it, at times."

Daley said he had not met with officials ahead of tonight's game but admitted he was expecting the Maroons to try to slow down the game and dominate the ruck.

"They tried to slow it down last year and we're expecting the same this year," Daley said. "They certainly try and dominate the ruck, we didn't have much room to move last year. I thought the games were slow last year compared to usual Origin games and I hope that's different this year.

"You just want them to referee the same they do in the NRL, that's all we've asked."

Daley does not want his players to dwell on negatives though, saying they need the mental strength to be able to roll with the punches tonight.

"We've got to make sure that we're disciplined and make sure that if things go against us, then we're mentally strong enough to cope with them," he said.

"It's not always going to work for you and sometimes you're at fault as well.

"We've got to try and limit those opportunities we give Queensland by making sure that we're disciplined."

Daley has been so pleased with his team's preparation in camp at Kingscliff that his team completed only the lightest of captain's runs at Cbus Super Stadium yesterday, their formal run-through lasting just minutes.

"I'm happy," Daley said. "They've coped with everything they've done, I can't fault them, it's all now just getting their head in the right space and if we do that, we play well."

But he has warned his team not to discount a wounded Maroons outfit.

Reeling from the loss of Johnathan Thurston, Greg Inglis and Matt Scott, Queensland will still be dangerous.

"It'd be naive to think that just because they're missing a couple of their big-name players that they wouldn't be ready," Daley said.

"Origin history, in particular Queensland's history, has been built on the back of people saying (they can't win).

"They will be as well prepared as ever, they'll be as tough as ever and our guys need to understand that because this is the time that they like. They like when people are starting to doubt them.

"But I can guarantee you this group won't doubt them and I won't doubt them."

It's the first time in more than a decade the Maroons will turn out without Thurston but Daley is not expecting much different.

"Obviously (Anthony) Milford will bring plenty of energy and he's a danger with the ball," he said.

"But they always try and find a way to rally the troops and have that us against them mentality.

"They'll do it again, they'll come up with something that tries to gel them all together and bring them all together ... and go out there and play well. But in Origin, it shouldn't be about surprises, you expect the opposition to front up and be ready to go and that's what we've got to do."

News Corp Australia

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