Blues State of Origin team at the Elite Training Centre.
Blues State of Origin team at the Elite Training Centre. Gemima Harvey

Blues training hard for Origin series defence

BLUES forwards James Tamou and Trent Merrin today spoke highly of the time spent at the team's Coffs Harbour training camp. 

The New South Wales squad continued preparations today ahead of Wednesday's opening State Of Origin match with the run-on team facing an opposed session against the interchange bench and NRL Under 20s players. 

Merrin, who has been dynamic for St George Illawarra this season, said the training sessions in the lead-up have been excellent.

"It's all about preparation and getting the body right and doing all the things in the field that we need to concentrate on," Merrin said.

"Leading into Wednesday, that's when you start to get glimpses of what you need to do and the style of play you want to produce."

He said he is not bothered by starting on the bench. 

The Blues interchange bench, one of the biggest ever named, will look to steam-roll the Maroons in the later stages of the first half. 

"I think this year has been one of those years when I've done both; I've had to lift both coming off the bench and starting, so either way, it's going to be a good test and I've got to put my hand up," Merrin said. 

Tamou, who has returned to the North Queensland Cowboys after an injury plagued start to the season, said a high level of "professionalism" has been evident at the camp.

"[The level of professionalism] has definitely gone up year by year. Individually as well, I'm very impressed with the boys and all the steps they take to get their body right," Tamou said. 

There has been an emphasis on recovery, he said, with players doing extra stretching and yoga sessions.

Quizzed about under pressure half and playmaker Mitchell Pearce - who will be the target of the Queensland pack - Tamou said: "The other day, it was only our second session in, he was on the run the whole time. You can see he was jumping out of his body and keen to go."

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