After telling his shattered players they could not tolerate losing to Queensland any longer, Blues coach Laurie Daley had a simple message to NSW supporters: ”We will get there.”
Daley will next week begin reviewing what went wrong and where the Blues need to improve to beat Queensland, but he is confident they can overcome two games in Brisbane next season to end Queensland’s eight-year winning streak.
The rookie NSW coach told the players in the dressing room on Wednesday night that he was proud of their efforts but he also gave them an honest assessment of why they fell short against a Maroons team many believe would have won by much more than 12-10 if they had the possession the Blues did.
”If we haven’t learnt over the last couple of years why we are going wrong and how we are going wrong, that is my job,” Daley said. ”Effort-wise, we have been very good and I couldn’t be prouder of them. I thought they were terrific. We need to have that effort, but we need to work on a couple of other things and I know that we can and I know that we will. When you are playing a Queensland team full of champions you have got to be clinical in your execution and we didn’t do that.”
Most of the criticism of the NSW performance has been directed at the key playmakers, halfback Mitchell Pearce, hooker Robbie Farah and five-eighth James Maloney. Daley said he had spoken to Pearce and advised him to focus on trying to help the Sydney Roosters to a premiership and making the Australian squad for the end of season World Cup.
”I just told him to keep his chin up – we tried hard but we weren’t good enough,” Daley said. ”Mitch has got a big year coming up with the Roosters travelling the way they are, there is a World Cup at the end of the year, there is a lot of things to look forward to and Origin is 12 months away.
”I said to him, ‘Don’t go and put pressure on yourself, just go with the flow and like in any footy circumstances just worry about one week at a time’. You don’t look too far ahead and you don’t look too far behind because things change pretty quickly and you have just got to continue to put your head down, work hard and go from there.”
While Pearce has worn the brunt of the criticism for the Blues loss, Farah has been accused of overplaying his hand by attempting a 40/20 kick three minutes from full-time and a crossfield kick that went into touch on the final play of the game.
”I thought we rushed things a little bit and we were too anxious but I was rapt by the boys’ effort,” Daley said. ”I just couldn’t have asked any more of them in terms of what they gave me. The more big games they play in and continue to learn. It is tough for everyone but I just know they couldn’t have given any more.
”But it is a matter of now realising and recognising that we have got to have that, plus we have got to have better execution. Obviously I need to analyse everything and then see where we can better ourselves for the challenge next year and hopefully everyone comes back more determined. Next week I will start to have a review process and start to get my teeth into it.”
Daley’s comments dispelled any doubt about him continuing in the role next season. ”I will go around again. I am disappointed like everyone else but I am keen to do it and I have learnt a lot,” he said.
”I just feel for the players and I feel for our supporters. It has been another long year for them but the way they have supported our team has been terrific.”
Winger James McManus said Daley had told the players: ”’Eventually we have got to stand up and say enough is enough. It is not good enough, we lost the series.’ He was really proud of the effort that we all put in but we need to really draw a line in the sand and say enough is enough.”
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.