Former Queensland half-back Johnathan Thurston has raised questions about the New South Wales Blues culture compared to that of his dominant and successful Maroons side.
Thurston spoke with Triple M earlier today and he was scathing in his assessment of the differences between the two combatants and how they approach the State of Origin experience.
Losers have meetings, winners have parties
The New South Wales Rugby League has recently concluded a review into their 2-1 series loss and confirmed that Laurie Daley would not continue as head coach after a disastrous collapse in game two. The Blues stunned the Queenslanders in game one at Suncorp Stadium but the Maroons were victories in game two and three.
Questions were raised about the preparation and culture of the Blues when troubled duo Josh Dugan and Blake Ferguson were spotted on the booze during a day off in the lead-up to game three. The internal review suggested that NSWRL officials had found big bar tabs racked up by the squad in all three Origin camps, seemingly illustrating a stunning lack of professionalism in their approach.
Thurston, widely considered one of the best players to have ever played the game, pointed to this as a key difference between the two camps.
“That’s the difference in the culture I believe,” said Thurston. “When the coaching staff give you those days off you do it in the right way and the right manner.
“Some of the boys will go and play golf, some of the boys go and sit at a café or whatever but certainly we’re not on the piss five days out from a game.
“They treated us like adults and with that trust there is a mutual respect between the coaching staff and the players.”
Champions lead the way
The Cowboys half-back pointed to former Maroons teammates Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater as the senior players that would ensure new members of the squad understood what is expected of them when they represent Queensland.
“They’re the boys that drive the culture, they know what it takes to win.
“They know what they need to do week in, week out to get their bodies right and when those young boys come into camp, they see the professionalism of those types of players and how they get their bodies right before a game.”
The comments from Thurston are largely hard to dispute, with an overall belief that there are not enough leaders and senior figures within the squad, while a myriad of concerns and issues are also believed to exist with the management structure and hierarchy of the game in New South Wales.
Fairfax Media reported that former Blues mentor and current Penrith Panthers head honcho Phil Gould turned down the offer to replace Daley in the head coach role.
Gould himself has been highly critical of the culture permeating the New South Wales setup, going as far as suggesting he wouldn’t want any Panthers players, such as rising star Nathan Cleary, involved in a Blues camp at present.
NSWRL chairman George Peponis has confirmed that coaches in the NRL would not be precluded from the role automatically, with Des Hasler reported as a potential favourite for the gig.
This raises even more questions, with the role of coaching a State of Origin team moving to a full-time standalone job years ago. Many feel that an NRL coach could not devote the necessary time to bring the Blues back on level terms with the dominant Maroons.
Does the Blues culture let them down on the Origin stage? Let us know in the comments below.
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