City players turn out for their photo call in Coffs Harbour yesterday.
City players turn out for their photo call in Coffs Harbour yesterday.

After and easy start, it's time to get serious

By GREG WHITE

ONE more sleep to go and Origin football will explode in Coffs Harbour.

Sometime today opposing coaches Craig Bellamy and Tim Sheens will shut down the public exposure and open the final stages of preparation for City Origin vs Country Origin.

With national news media bunkered down in the city since teams began arriving, much reporting has focused on the gruelling schedule facing players and support staff.

As the tourists stepped off the aircraft the bloodshot eyes and strained faces gave vivid evidence this was no ordinary holiday jaunt to a North Coast resort.

But with good food, swim sessions and time to unwind, the Origin squads have gradually returned to something resembling normal living.

Country Origin players passed Monday evening at the Plantation Hotel with a few hands of poker before joining their City Origin counterparts last night for drinks with locals at the Coffs Hotel.

Yesterday morning, the opposing camps gave their first signs of a buildup for the coming battle when the day started with a weights session.

"Later today we'll knuckle down and get back to pure football," Country Origin boss Craig Bellamy said.

Bellamy has criticised the timing of the match believing it should revert to its original Friday night format.

"There hasn't been much time to do anything but unwind from the weekend round and then start again," he remarked.

"We'd love to be in town longer to hold some coaching with the kids and get around more but time doesn't permit."

Assistant City Origin coach Shaun 'Bomber' McRae said with the administration process now over the real work could begin.

"There's the usual relaxation things like time in the pool and stretching exercises and they'll spend time on the field doing ball work," he said.

That will be the regimen until game day dawns and the adrenalin starts rushing as 34 elite athletes make their way to BCU International Stadium.

But the question remains, what sort of people are these rugby league representatives?

"Actually, a very quiet bunch," Country Origin media officer David Taylor said.

"Some are young and on their first rep excursion so they're still feeling their way."

At least, until referee Shayne Hayne blows 'time on' at 7.45pm tomorrow.



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