There's more than three months until the Blues name their side for the opening State of Origin, but they have already assembled a formidable team off the field.
The NSWRL is poised to announce the appointment of Andrew Farrar as team manager in a boost to coach Laurie Daley's off-field staff. It caps a big week for Farrar, who was reappointed to the Canterbury board in a show of faith from club members.
Daley has shown his willingness to include former NSW players as part of his staff and the appointment of Farrar continues that trend.
Farrar played seven games for the Blues during a relatively successful period between 1984 and 1990. He also represented Australia, tasted premiership success with the Bulldogs and has coached at the first-grade level at the Illawarra Steelers, St George Illawarra Dragons and the Wigan Warriors in the English Super League.
The appointment comes following a chance encounter with Daley last year. "It all started quite innocently the day before last year's grand final," Farrar explained. "We were just chatting, I asked him how his first year was, we got talking and one thing led to another and he asked me to be involved. I said 'yes' and that's how it started. From chatting with him he didn't want to change a great deal after having the experience of coming so close last year. He and [NSWRL chairman] Dave Trodden have made a few decisions to get us that percentage better in preparation, which could be the difference between winning and losing the series."
The Blues have already indicated a change of approach to their preparation ahead of the opening match at Suncorp Stadium on May 29.
It includes setting up base camp at Coffs Harbour ahead of the Queensland fixtures, shifting from Coogee to the Sydney Olympic Park precinct ahead of game two and announcing their side two days later than usual to limit distractions for players involved in Sunday or Monday matches.
"If you don't change a few things up, you never know," Farrar said. "My main aim as a manager is to work behind the scenes to prepare the players so they can perform to their best on the field. I've been around footy as a long time as a player, coach and also in governance with my job on the board at the Bulldogs.
"There's certainly not a textbook on how to go about these things, you go on experience because it's not like all of the rules and regulations are written down."
Trodden said Farrar had the required expertise to give NSW every chance of success on and off the field. "He's a former Australian representative, a premiership winner and a State of Origin player," Trodden said. "And on the non-playing side he was a first-grade coach as well. I see Andrew Farrar as being experienced across a whole spectrum of the game, particularly what it takes to be successful at the highest level."
The Blues, who have come agonisingly close to upsetting the Maroons in recent campaigns, are attempting to arrest an eight-year losing streak. "You've got to go in confident that you can beat them, that we can get the two wins we need to win the series," Farrar said. "That doesn't change, if you're not confident of beating the opposition then you're behind the eight ball. At State of Origin level it's about being the best prepared you can possibly be. With that comes confidence and confidence in football is everything."