Hugh McGahan: Nothing can beat a band of brothers

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It was interesting to hear a newly appointed coach reveal his three-step plan to restore his team to the top of the pile in rugby's Super 14 - Pat Lam, in his new role as the Blues coach from 2009.

His first and most important step was to create the correct environment for his team to win; they needed to be happy. He itemised this as most important and he is right.

The other two steps in his three-point plan are irrelevant if the first is not achieved. It is critical as the foundation to learning, growing and improving comes when people are comfortable, willing and showing desire. How many teams can have this trait and then fail to win the big games?

Last Wednesday in the Origin decider we saw first-hand what Queensland have over NSW, not just through this recent series but in the past three series encounters. What a game. On the face of it, Queensland should not have won that third game in Sydney; NSW had the better of the fixture in most facets of the game.

Grit, determination and a commitment not to give in were the characteristics displayed by the Maroons - as in previous eras. The establishment of such a distinctive trait is born out of a bond between a team of individuals.

A bond formed from previous adversity and connected with a desire never to repeat the bad old days.

The Queensland team of 1980 ignited unification of Queensland when players who previously had to play for the opposition bonded together to form something special. That bond has remained with the team by way of father figures and past players. They carry history through first-hand experiences passed on by word of mouth to the next generation - and we have all witnessed time and time again what Queensland extract in desperate times.

It is the envy of all New South Welshmen in their bid to find that elusive ingredient. Many a time have NSW fielded the better-class players only to have failed to beat their less-fancied opponents because of that strong 'bond'.

It's what keeps them going; it drives them to uphold their responsibility to maintain the legacy. What other sporting team has this same characteristic and duty to uphold the same? Others may have the class players to continue winning or a development program that builds discipline but I can not think of another that can win against all odds like Queensland have countless times over in State of Origin history.

Will any New Zealand team build such a bond to win games when everything is against them and to then consistently repeat the feat? We may witness a team win when they are happy, confident and full of superstars but will they win when outclassed by their opposition with talent and when the odds are stacked against them?

It's hard to say, but wouldn't we all rejoice if we saw a glimpse of it in our team; whatever team that may be.

- Herald on Sunday

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