NSW’s walking wounded step up to get the Blues over the line in a pulsating State of Origin series-opener at Suncorp Stadium.
Proud Blues coach Laurie Daley believes his injury-hit outfit’s gutsy series-opening State of Origin upset will unite NSW like never before.
Daley revealed that four of his players shouldn’t have been on Suncorp Stadium after copping serious injuries that will sideline them in the weeks to come.
But the likes of captain Paul Gallen, the Morris twins and Anthony Watmough all hung tough amid Queensland’s late onslaught for a cherished 12-8 victory.
Daley hailed it as the most courageous victory he’s ever been involved with as player or coach, such was his pride at the performance in the pulsating encounter.
Winger Brett Morris epitomised the Blues efforts by staying on the field after dislocating his shoulder in scoring NSW’s opening try in the 19th minute.
Not only did Morris finish the game but he also pulled off a pivotal try-saving tackle in the corner on Darius Boyd with five minutes to play.
His brother Josh finished with the most serious injury, a suspected tear of knee ligaments, which has him in grave doubt for the rest of the series.
Watmough suffered a biceps problem while Gallen has a neck injury, courtesy of massive hit from behind by Josh Papalii.
“We had a truck-load of injuries,” Daley said. “We have blokes that courageously battled away and should have come off but stayed out there because we needed them to.
“They dug deep. We’ve talked about about Origin and digging deep and they showed it tonight in truck-loads.
Daley said the manner of the backs-to-the-wall effort, combined with some dubious late refereeing calls that went the home side’s way, showed that Queensland don’t have a monopoly on passion and spirit.
“For the boys to do what they did under those conditions, I’m one extremely happy coach and I’m certain the whole state would be happy,” he said.
“And I think this win would have united us like never before.”
Gallen backed his coach’s comments, claiming it was the best NSW win he’d been involved in.
But the inspirational lock warned NSW needed to improve in game two in Sydney in three weeks as “Queensland will get better”.
Fullback Jarryd Hayne was a thoroughly deserving man of the match, proving a constant thorn in Queensland’s side – both in attack and defence.
Hayne set up Morris’s early try and then scored one of his own in the 33rd minute by rolling over the top of Johnathan Thurston for a 10-4 lead.
Daley praised the efforts of rookie halves Josh Reynolds and Trent Hodkinson but they may be split up for the rematch with Reynolds charged with a grade two dangerous throw on Brent Tate.
The Bulldog is required to make his plea on Thursday and the only way he can be free to play would be if he was found not guilty or successfully applied to have the charge downgraded.