Maguire outlines his Origin priorities

Margie McDonald

“I am a big believer that the Blues jersey is everything.”

With those words Michael Maguire officially took the reins of the Westpac NSW Blues emphasising the role of the players in Origin success.

“I can’t wait to get out and start talking to the players … I’ll spend a lot of time doing that as they’re at the centre of what we want to do,” Maguire said.

“We are all here to make the jersey successful.

“For my part, with the help of everyone in the state, out in the country or city, we’ll create the best arena for our players to perform at their best.”

A premiership-winning coach in two hemispheres – with Wigan in Super League and with South Sydney in the NRL – Maguire also took the New Zealand Kiwis to a record win over Australia 30-0 in the Pacific Championship three weeks ago.

“Coaching at club level to international to Origin is different – they’re different machines,” Maguire said.

“But when you’ve got the capability of these players – and I’ve found this at international level – they are the ones that lead the way.

“When you walk into Origin you’re with the best of the best. We will just create that environment around them that allows them to be their best.”

Maguire said he would view the 2024 State of Origin selections with an open mind.

“I’m big on form. When you’ve got people in really good form coming into camp, with a really positive mindset about how they want to do things, that counts for a lot.

“My message to them is to enjoy their (club) footy, get into some good fitness and form.”

Alongside Maguire’s appointment is long-time Melbourne Storm Football Manager Frank Ponissi being named the 2024 Blues Team Performance Manager.

The pair worked together at the Storm, when Maquire was assistant coach to Craig Bellamy.

“Frank is enormous. He brings a wealth of experience and knowledge and you can see what he’s done down there with Melbourne,” Maguire said.

 “He always has a calmness around him. And he’s come up with a few ideas of how we can really engage people in country NSW because I want everyone in the state to be a part of what we’re going to do.”

The inevitable question came up, when Maguire spoke to the media at the NSWRL Centre of Excellence: Do you hate Queensland?

“Yep. I was born in Canberra and I was like any NSW kid growing up watching Origin,” he said.

“I was fortunate to come through in the early 1990s and play with some of the great Origin players like Laurie (Daley), Ricky (Stuart) and Mal Meninga (Queensland).

“There was plenty of rivalry back then – and there still is.”