Blues embarrass Gallen with their pace
Even though Blues skipper Paul Gallen admitted his embarrassment at spending so much of NSW's campaign watching from the sidelines, the time was good for something.
It gave Gallen the chance to watch what a bit of spark had given the squad.
With a sharper focus on attack, Gallen said he had been in awe of what the likes of five-eighth Todd Carney, centre Michael Jennings and winger Jarryd Hayne have been doing on the training paddock.
''It's a new-look team,'' Gallen said. ''It's a very fast team. The passing between the players, and the speed they move across the ground, I was just shaking my head at it the other day.
''I think we needed to do something to beat these guys.''
Of course, the Blues will also need Gallen. And the prop said that after a physical session against the Melbourne under-20s squad on Sunday, he was in no doubt for the contest.
He said he had been concerned - but more about the fact that while he was sidelined, the rest of his teammates trained on.
''It wasn't really about me, or about me playing,'' Gallen said. ''I was more concerned about the team. If I didn't play in this game, and we won this game, I wouldn't care. All I want is this team to win this game, and this series. That's what I'm concerned with.
''I was embarrassed, to be honest, to be the captain of this team, and to sit on the sideline watching the boys train, they just looked good, so fast, and it was embarrassing more than anything. It was just annoying me and I was really frustrated.''
Coach Ricky Stuart, the last man to coach NSW to a series win in 2005, worked hard to instil a new culture within the camp when he took the job back for last year's series - and he believes the Blues are better placed for success than they were at the same time last year.
''I said last year, and a lot of people didn't believe me, that I had to assess the situation in regards to where we were at,'' Stuart said.
''After game one, I thought we could win the series - I don't think many other people believed that.
''After game two, there wasn't many people that thought we couldn't win it.
''So of course I go into this game confident, but I can only do that by what the players are performing and how they're preparing on the field. You go into a game of football wanting to win, and that's exactly where we're going.''