Mini backs Stuart's Blues to deliver - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Mini backs Stuart's Blues to deliver

Darren Walton 20/05/2011 03:21:47 PM Comments (0)

Former NSW match-winner Anthony Minichiello has questioned Jarryd Hayne's controversial omission from next week's State of Origin opener - but not Ricky Stuart's ability to prise back the trophy from Queensland.

Minichiello won the Wally Lewis Medal as player of the series the last time NSW reigned supreme - in 2005 under Stuart's coaching.

The veteran fullback also teamed with Stuart to help the Sydney Roosters win the 2002 NRL premiership and now he's backing his former mentor to end the Blues' five years of interstate misery.

"He's back on board now and he's the sole coach of the Blues team now and I think that's a benefit for the boys," Minichiello said on Friday.

"I think they've picked a really strong team. I think they can win the series."

Minichiello said Stuart's greatest coaching asset was his knack of creating a winning culture within team camps.

"Obviously everyone knows he's passionate about the Blues and about football in general," he said.

"I suppose people were saying, which is right, that he's not weighed down by coaching an NRL team.

"He comes in with a fresh mind, he's mentally fresh and he's not drained out by a club coaching role.

"I think that's a benefit for the Blues."

Minichiello's only slight reservation about the NSW team was the absence of Hayne in the 17-man squad for Origin I in Brisbane on Wednesday night.

The Parramatta superstar, like Minichiello a former Blues man of the series and world player of the year, was overlooked at fullback for Canberra's excitement machine Josh Dugan.

"I thought that he would have been in the team somewhere," Minichiello said.

"But I can understand why they picked Josh Dugan.

"He's a good young player, he's going to be a superstar in the future and he's got a really good work ethic at fullback and I suppose that's what Ricky liked in him."

From Minichiello's observations, the one primary difference between Queensland and NSW during the Maroons' five-year domination has been spirit and stability in team selection.

"I think obviously the Queenslanders have picked a similar team over the last five or six years, so they come into camp and are best mates," he said.

"They know each other inside out and when the pressure is put on them on the field, that (camaraderie) comes out and it normally comes in the back-end of games and that's when Queensland win."

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