NSW assistant coach Matt Parish says Alex McKinnon, who’ll be watching Origin II live at ANZ Stadium, will provide a lift to the Blues.
NSW will be looking to Alex McKinnon for some inspiration as they attempt to break Queensland’s eight-year State of Origin stranglehold on Wednesday night.
The Newcastle forward will be at ANZ Stadium for game two to support the Blues, nearly three months after suffering a serious neck injury in a match against Melbourne.
NSW assistant coach Matt Parish said there was no doubt McKinnon’s presence would provide a “massive” boost to his side.
“Alex has been an inspiration to everyone in the NRL, to see how he is recovering and how he’s taken on the adversity that he has,” Parish told reporters on Wednesday morning.
“His story, what he’s been through, lifts everyone.
“The way he’s handled it, and the way his family have in the way they’ve stuck together.”
After a relaxed game day breakfast, the Blues enjoyed a few competitive games of table tennis and PlayStation at their Homebush hotel before their traditional morning walk to the former Olympic stadium.
“It is a long day, so the secret is to relax as much as possible,” Parish said.
“It’s easy for us to say ‘relax’ – it’s a massive game tonight, which we all know.
“But they all seem in good spirits and they’ve all said they’ve slept well which is good. Our preparation has been great, so we’re ready to go.”
Parish refused to accept NSW were the favourites after winning the opening game. He said he also took no solace in the fact Queensland playmaker Daly Cherry-Evans may not be 100 per cent fit despite being cleared to play on Tuesday.
“It wouldn’t matter who they put on the park, they’re a great team and that’s why they’ve had the results they’ve had,” he said.
“We’re coming against a championship team who are going to be desperate.
“But can I say this: we’re very desperate too. We haven’t won a series eight years in a row and this is our chance.
“Us playing at home tonight is a massive factor in our favour, but it counts for little by the time the ball is kicked off.
“It’s then up to the players to react to the crowd and to the energy that they’re going to supply.”