“We are not scarred and we are certainly not scared”.

That is NSW coach Laurie Daley’s response to those who think Queensland only have to turn up to win this year’s State of Origin after thrashing the Blues 52-6 in last season’s series decider at Suncorp Stadium.

With a massive question mark over the halves Daley will name on Monday for the June 1 series opener at ANZ Stadium and concerns about NSW’s aging forwards, there are few who believe the Blues have the talent to prevent the Maroons from claiming the shield for a 10th time since 2006.

Yet Daley points to NSW’s record since he took over from Ricky Stuart three years ago of a series win in 2014 and four victories in nine matches, with two of the team’s losses – the 2013 decider and last year’s series opener – being decided by field goals.

“In both those games we didn’t have probably our best player in Jarryd Hayne and in the final in 2013 we didn’t have Paul Gallen either,” Daley said. “People have said the last few years that we can’t win but if you take out Game III last year it has been pretty close.

“We have got to make sure that we do better than we did in Game III last year but overall last year I thought our series was quite good if you take away that game. I thought in Game I we were pretty good and probably should have won, Game II in Melbourne was fantastic and Game III was what can happen when you are off against a pretty good side.”

While Daley insists he isn’t dwelling on that defeat, those close to the man who has been involved in more Origin games for NSW than anyone – 23 matches in nine series as a player and nine matches in three series as coach – say it took him weeks to get over and he readily admits to having no real idea of why it happened.

“It was a shock because I thought we trained really well and were ready to go but that is what can happen in sport,” Daley said. “I wouldn’t have done anything different. We prepared really well. We might have got a bit in front of ourselves [after winning Origin II at the MCG], we might not have turned up with the same attitude but that was probably the best we had prepared.

“They were better than us and we were a bit flat but we are not worried about the past, we are just focused on this game and this series. I am approaching this series like we always have; very confident that we can play well and if we play well we give ourselves a chance.”

With speculation that Queensland changed their team for Origin I after Fairfax Media revealed the NSW line-up 16 hours before it was named last season, Daley is guarded about the make-up of the squad to be announced on Monday but regardless of who he picks the biggest talking point will be the form of the NSW halves.

Since the start of the season, Daley has wanted someone to claim the No.6 and No.7 jerseys but Mitchell Pearce was suspended for eight matches, Adam Reynolds broke his jaw in the opening round, Trent Hodkinson has failed to perform to his previous standards after moving to Newcastle, Josh Reynolds has failed to maintain his early season form and there are worries about James Maloney’s defence.

While he refuses to confirm the identity of the NSW halves, Daley is confident that players coming into Origin with indifferent club form will rise to the occasion.

“All the people who have played Origin for us over the last couple of years have played above themselves at times,” he said. “Trent is probably the perfect example of that. His performances have been very good for us, You would like to have a stable halves pairing but whoever plays will be pulling on the the NSW jersey and they will be ready to go.”

Daley also rejected criticism that NSW hadn’t blooded enough new players and said the omissions of Luke Lewis and Anthony Watmough last season was part of a succession plan he was gradually implementing to ensure long-term success for the Blues, which will include the Origin farewell of Gallen after this series.

“I think there is this big fallacy out there that we don’t make change and we refuse to make change,” Daley said. “That couldn’t be further from the truth but what we have done is slowly gone about re-building rather than throwing everything out at once and giving our team the opportunity to feel comfortable and build and mould a footy team that is competitive.

“I have a plan and I am not altering it. I know how to set us up for success and I could have quite easily last year when we didn’t have Gal, Greg Bird and Hayne, have said we need a couple of experienced guys there so I will keep Lewis and I will keep Watmough but our plan was to slowly move some people on and keep others.

“We have got a plan in place and we have won a series when people didn’t think we could. I am on a path I know will work so I am comfortable.”

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