The NSW team does not want you to know this, but we'll set it free nonetheless.
On the night before the opening match of this year's State of Origin series, Laurie Daley sneaked his team through a side gate and into an empty ANZ Stadium, told his players to stand in their positions on the field and turned on the lights. In silence and without another soul in the place, the Blues were told to think about the personal sacrifice they had made to arrive there, what they would do the following night against Queensland, and to imagine the people sitting in the stands who had helped deliver them to this moment.
Some stood still. Others, like halfback Mitchell Pearce, lay on their backs and looked towards the heavens.
The gathering is so secret players dead-bat all inquiries whenever it is raised. ''Who told you about that?'' smirked one player. ''We're keeping that between us.''
The motivational ploy was first used in 1993 before game two when Phil Gould coached a Blues side that included Daley. As the team bus snaked its way out of the city after dinner on match eve, it took a sudden detour towards the Sydney Football Stadium.
After the players took their positions on the field, the lights came on.
Gould explains it like this: ''I told them that at 8pm tomorrow, nobody else will be on this field. Not the media, not me, not the fans, only Queensland. And this is your home ground.''
Over the next hour, the players - who also included Brad Fittler, Ricky Stuart, Paul Harragon and Ian Roberts - found their way to other parts of the field and thought about what they would need to do to beat the Maroons. Then Gould made them visualise the people who had got them here. If they would be sitting in that row over there, or wouldn't be at the ground at all, or looking down from heaven.
NSW won 16-12 - and the series - the following night.
It remains to be seen if Daley will use the same ploy for the decider. No one will say.
Bonding not boozing
In more Origin news just to hand, only half the Blues players decided to drink during the traditional bonding session on Tuesday night. After dinner in Parramatta, they fronted the Unity Hotel in Balmain where the players entertained themselves with karaoke. The sight of props James Tamou, Trent Merrin and Andrew Fifita belting out such tunes as Boyz II Men's I'll Make Love To You and the Backstreet Boys classic I Want It That Way is sure to strike the fear of God into their Queensland counterparts.
Big Dwight out
Lock up your daughters and maybe your mum, too - ''All Night'' Dwight Yorke is about to hit Sin City again.
Yorke is touring with his former club Manchester United, which will be officially welcomed to Sydney on Sunday in the lead-up to their clash with the A-League All Stars at ANZ Stadium on July 20.
Of course, Yorke's resourceful performance in Sydney nightclubs was almost as memorable as his feats on the field for Sydney FC in 2005-06. The 41-year-old is expected to take the current crop of Red Devils stars on a personal tour of Sydney's best nightclubs when it's over. Manchester United's galaxy of superstars are scheduled to climb the Harbour Bridge next Wednesday, before some of them, headed by Wayne Rooney, are whisked away to ANZ Stadium to a private suite to watch the Origin decider.
Poles don't lie
Twitter got itself into a lather on Sunday, just hours before the Bunnies took on the Warriors in Perth, when nude selfies of prop George Burgess started doing the rounds. In terms of rugby league scandal, it rates a half out of 10. The pics were taken about a year ago. But, as our special lady friends at the popular rugby league blog Oh Errol report, it was a schoolboy error. ''NEVER SHOW THE FACE,'' they explained.
Despite a few minor off-field hiccups, Burgess remains on track for rookie of the year honours.
This column is hardly surprised when you consider Cairns police are still shaking their heads in disbelief over the incident last month when the 21-year-old reefed a pole out of the ground and put it through the rear window of a car. The cops still don't know how one man could pull out a pole concreted into the ground. We'd say a very strong one.
Brand, James Brand
How much would ''Brand'' O'Connor - as James O'Connor infamously once described himself - be worth right now? The crestfallen Wallabies superstar is without a club after he was sacked by the Melbourne Rebels the morning after another failure in the No.10 jumper. He didn't know it was coming, not least when he and partner in crime Kurtley Beale were out drinking until all hours of Sunday morning. Indeed, O'Connor's late-night activities make a mockery of his Swisse television advertisements, in which he promotes vitamins that supposedly aid sleep. Perhaps he should up the dosage. As for Beale, he's no certainty of re-signing with the Rebels. They are wary of his slow progress in overcoming his alcohol problems. Surely, the Waratahs - who are also interested in signing him - are taking note.
Ship to sore
It keeps getting denied but it keeps coming up that the moment the Australian cricket team tore in half was last summer when captain Michael Clarke and other players joined James Packer on his yacht after Mike Hussey's farewell Test at the SCG. Other players, specifically Shane Watson and Peter Siddle, opted to stay with their departing teammate. It is also rumoured that Cricket Australia boss James Sutherland boarded Packer's luxurious tinny that night. Darren Lehmann's most critical task as coach during these Ashes won't be solving the issues of bat and ball as much as unifying a fractured team.
Question & Answer: Brandon Jack
After kicking four goals for the Swans last week, we spoke to the brother of Kieren and son of Garry as he prepared for Sunday's clash with GWS at the SCG.
How's the reaction been to your performance against Melbourne?
We had a junior clinic the other day and it was good to see the looks on their faces – and that maybe some people are watching me when I play.
Who's winning Origin?
To be honest, I don't think NSW will win. I'm always hoping they will, but I'm not too confident. I can't see Queensland being beat.
Yeah, I know.
Have you told your father that?
Yes, we're very open with him about who's going to win.
So let me get this right: you only played league up until the age of 15, then swapped codes?
Until then I was always hoping to play league, and play league for the Tigers.
What swung it? Money?
Ha! No, a few of my mates were playing for Westbrook, the local team. I wasn't too good at the start but I wanted to learn.
What's it like playing AND living with your brother?
It's pretty good. I'm adjusting to mum not cooking and doing everything for me.
Who's got control of the remote?
We've got two TVs so it doesn't matter.
You must be flying ... Where will you watch Origin?
We've had the boys in the team around to watch the last two, trying to teach them a bit
about league. They don't understand it too much.
Is it right that if you grew up on the other side of Pennant Hills Road, you would've been playing for GWS?
That's right. The cut-off for the academy was just on the other side. If I was 50 metres across I would've been in the Giants academy. I could've been playing against Kieren. We lived one block off Pennant Hills Road. Give GWS a few years and they'll be right up there.
THUMBS UP - Andy Murray
The Scotsman might have the personality of a dial tone, but that doesn't alter the enormity of what he achieved: becoming the first British player to win the men's championship at Wimbledon since Fred Perry in 1936. Platoons of British press have shadowed him for years, waiting for Sunday's golden moment. And he delivered.
THUMBS DOWN - Kurtley Beale, James O'Connor, Quade Cooper
Robbie Deans should've been speared after the Wallabies' 2011 World Cup failure, but let this new change in direction serve as a kick up the bottom for the Unholy Trinity of Gen Y. Get off Twitter, get out of Hungry Jacks, stop punching your captain. You're Wallabies, for chrissakes.
''Australian rules football is 1 mad sport! u need the lot to play this, endurance, strength, technique, pace etc....and a screw loose!"
A tweet from Manchester United star Rio Ferdinand earlier this week. Wait until you attend State of Origin, champ. Can we call you "champ"?
IT'S A BIG WEEKEND FOR ...
Chris Sandow, who will line up for Wentworthville in the NSW Cup match played before Parramatta's under-20s and NRL sides play at Parra Stadium tomorrow night. At least he's guaranteed a hot shower.
IT'S AN EVEN BIGGER WEEKEND FOR ...
Darren Lehmann and Rod Marsh after their bold decision to spirit 19-year-old spinner Ashton Agar for the first Ashes Test. It has rocks or diamonds written all over it.