aley is off contract at the end of this series and speculation is rife that the coach — who has been tormented by close losses to one of the greatest sides in rugby league history — is ready to walk away.
With just one series win — the 2014 cliffhanger — to hang his hat on, it’s possible, perhaps even likely, that Daley would not have his contract renewed by the NSWRL should his side fail at Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday.
However, win and he will have a record of two series wins and three losses from five attempts, a commendable effort given the quality of the opposition.
Daley was edgy at his final press conference before the game, shutting down questions about his expectations of the referees in the decider and refusing to buy into talk that Josh McGuire had riled the NSW camp.
He also admitted to putting Andrew Fifita on a media ban during camp, due to the media’s focus on off-field issues.
“I made that decision because I know what you guys are like and it wouldn’t be about football that you’d be asking him questions and that’s all we want to talk about when we’re in these types of camps,” Daley said.
“He’s fine, he’s shaping for a big game, he knows he’s got a target on his head and he’s prepared for the game.”
It was a media performance that smacked of a man feeling the strain just over 24 hours out from the biggest game of his coaching career, with a guarded Daley a million miles away from his usual laid-back, jovial self.
In a way that’s no surprise given the way the Blues threw away a huge opportunity to wrap the series up in Sydney.
“I think game two was our best prep and we didn’t win,” he said.
“I’ve given up predicting, all I know is you’ve got to prepare well and give yourself the best chance, sometimes you won’t play well and sometimes you do play well.”
If Daley was to depart after Wednesday night’s decider it would leave a big hole in a team that has been completely regenerated under his watch and now looks to be on the verge of a successful period as Queensland’s ageing champions start to retire.
Skipper Boyd Cordner said Daley’s possible departure had not been discussed in camp but pleaded with one of NSW’s greatest ever champions not to walk away.
“For me personally, I think he’s one of the most passionate players and blokes to have ever worn a blue jersey,” Cordner said.
“For Origin that’s what you need. He wears his heart on his sleeve, just to see how he conducts himself away from footy as well.
“It’s good for someone like myself to look up to, but for me, he’s helped me grow as a player and a person at clubland but also in the Origin arena, so hopefully, I guess what I’m trying to say is hopefully he’ll stay around.”
Josh Dugan has been an integral member of Daley’s Blues squad since he first took the reins in 2013, even playing under him in his first representative game for Country way back in 2010.
The superstar centre described the coach’s influence on him as “massive” and said the biggest compliment he could give him is that “everyone wants to play for him”.
“I love coming into camp and being able to play under Loz, and just that energy and excitement that he brings about being able to play for NSW, it’s special,” Dugan said.
“It would be massive to win this game. Not just for Loz but for the whole of NSW and the boys, my family, everyone else’s families.
“It is a special time and we’ve got a chance to write history and that’s what we’re looking to do.”