Phil Gould speaks to his troops after the game one victory in 2004.

Phil Gould speaks to his troops after the game one victory in 2004. Photo: Craig Golding

A newspaper column by NSW’s most successful State of Origin coach Phil Gould and some stirring half-time words from star fullback Jarryd Hayne and rookie prop Aaron Woods helped inspire the Blues to Wednesday night’s brave 12-8 series-opening defeat of Queensland at Suncorp Stadium.

Gould, who steered the Blues to five series wins and a draw in his seven years as Origin coach, used his column in last weekend’s Sun Herald to  urge the  NSW players to ignore the critics and believe in themselves, to be prepared to endure fatigue levels they had never experienced, be committed in defence and win the one-on-one battle with their opposite number.

To win, the Blues had to make an Origin record nine try-saving tackles and defend four of the last five sets of tackles in the match on their own tryline after some refereeing decisions by Shayne Hayne and Ben Cummins that left NSW coach Laurie Daley ‘‘absolutely filthy".

After being told about Gould’s column by former Blues great Brad Fittler,  Daley  showed it to his players on the morning of the Origin opener in Brisbane.

‘‘It focused on everything we’d been speaking about,’’ Daley said. ‘‘Gus  put it in a way that only he can. The words he put together were exceptional.

‘‘I just passed it around on the morning before the game. I told them to have a read and pass it around. It was the messages we’d been speaking about. He hit the nail on the head.’’

Daley  organised for a framed photo of each player as a junior to be pinned up in their lockers on game day, with the words ‘‘This is what you dreamed of your whole life’’ etched on the front.

Veteran forward Luke Lewis, who is the only member of the NSW squad to have played in a winning series, said the photo of him as a six-year-old was a heartfelt gesture from the NSWRL that inspired most of the players.

‘‘It was pretty cool, to be honest with you,’’ Lewis said. ‘‘We had no idea about it. It was really well set up in our lockers, so when I took my jersey down it was right there in front of me. It was really tasteful the way they did it.’’

Lewis said most of the players read Gould’s column. ‘‘Gus knows his footy, and it was all about what Origin is all about and the things Loz had touched on during the week. Just the way he said things about Origin and the way the game is played. He’s really good with words too, so it  hit home with a lot of the boys. It was really good.’’

Gould wrote that no matter how well the NSW players performed in the first half, they would need to repeat the effort in the second 40minutes, and his prediction proved  spot on as the Blues had to dig deep to hold off the Maroons as they dominated possession and field position in the second term.

Man of the match Hayne, who  said ‘‘Individually, I just went to a place  I’ve never been before’’, addressed the NSW players at half-time, along with skipper Paul Gallen and five-eighth Josh Reynolds.

‘‘Jarryd has never done anything like that before in Origin at half-time and he led by example,’’ a Blues insider said. ‘‘He just said Queensland were going to grind in the second half so we had to be up for the grind and not to give up.’’

As the players prepared to head back on to the field, Daley said: ‘‘The last thing I will say is that you know why they never lose – because they don’t give up.’’

‘‘Neither do f---ing we,’’ Woods defiantly responded, prompting a round of back-slapping as the fired-up Blues left the dressing room for the second half.

According to Sportsdata, NSW players made a record nine try-saving tackles, with Hayne and second-rower Beau Scott producing two each.

Gallen, Reynolds, winger Brett Morris and interchange forwards Luke Lewis and Tony Williams  each produced a try-saving tackle as Queensland had ‘‘all of the good ball, all of the running, all of the momentum, the crowd and the referees’ calls go their way’’ in the second half.

With the Maroons completing 17 of their 21 sets in possessions  in the second half compared with NSW completing 12  of 15 sets, the Blues had to make 188 tackles to 140 by Queensland.

Daley spent the last six minutes fuming in the coach’s box as the Maroons had three consecutive sets on the NSW line following decisions by the match officials to rule halfback Trent Hodkinson had lost the ball when it appeared to have been stripped and to give the ball back to Justin Hodges after stopping play to allow Billy Slater to receive treatment for a shoulder injury.

Instead of Hodges  playing the ball on the left  side of the field where play had been halted, he was allowed to hand it to Greg Inglis and run back to his right centre position so he could receive the ball again on the next play.

The Blues  were also unhappy  no action was taken against Queensland halfback replacement Daly Cherry-Evans for taking out Michael Jennings when he was running in support of a long break by Hayne.

Daley told his players the win was one of the most courageous in Origin history because of what they overcame in those dying minutes but he reminded them the job was not finished.

‘‘One more win and the series is ours,’’ Daley said.

 Twitter  @BradWalterSMH