Rugby League


Sleep testing key to NSW's State of Origin plans

NSW players are having their sleep patterns assessed as part of their preparations for Wednesday's State of Origin opener in Brisbane.

Blues coach Laurie Daley is leaving no stone unturned at the team's camp in Coffs Harbour as he looks to orchestrate a first series win for the state in nine years.

Leading sport scientist Dr Craig Duncan, and a team of interns from the Australian Catholic University, are overseeing daily testing of each player to ensure they are in the best possible condition before game one.

Luke Lewis, who made his Origin debut in 2004 and is the only player in the squad to have played a full part in a winning series, said there was a world of difference from when he first walked into camp a decade ago.

"Origin has always been big, but now it's a lot more professional compared to when I first played," Lewis said.

"When I first started back in '04, the first few nights were big bonding nights, then a day recovering from the night out.


"Then we'd start our preparations with a couple of big fitness days.

"Now we have daily saliva and urine tests and they're looking at our sleep patterns.

"It's the first time I've experienced that before."

Duncan's team has issued each player with a special watch, which they press whenever they feel tired and before they go to bed at night.

The idea is to allow the scientists to assess how much work or rest each player requires to optimise their performance.

"It's amazing how much these things have moved on," Lewis said.

"Every club pretty much does the urine testing daily but there are so many things that the sport now knows. It's a really good thing.

"In 10 years from now, they are going to know everything about your body and exactly what goes in and what it does."

The Blues players were given the day off on Friday and most of the squad have steered clear of alcohol since arriving in camp.

However, Lewis said there had been no blanket booze ban by Daley.

"If a few of the boys want a couple of beers, then they have a couple of light ones if they want and enjoy each other's company," he said.

"But the bigger picture is winning the series, and this is the best prepared team I have been involved with."