NSW winger Brett Morris is battling ongoing knee issues ahead of game two of the State of Origin series.
NSW winger Brett Morris is battling ongoing knee issues ahead of game two of the State of Origin series. DAVE HUNT

Battered Blues willing to do hard yards

RUGBY LEAGUE: It starts as soon as the team is named.

Brett Morris fills his kit bag for the week with physio bands of different thicknesses and several ice packs and knee braces.

Boyd Cordner does the same with several straps and ice bags at his disposal.

For the battered Blues, they need all 10 days of preparation to go to war with Queensland.

But it goes beyond the gimmicks. There's a warm-up before the team warm-up and workouts inside the hotel room while teammates are playing video games.

There's a lot of work that goes unnoticed that must be done in order to take the field.

"There's a lot of rehab and strengthening exercises to make sure the muscles are firing. It's about keeping on top of it and trying not to lose strength," Morris told foxsports.com.au.

"The knee is a massive joint so you have to look after your legs. A lot of icing and stretching.

"I've got bands I bring into camp and ice packs. We've got all sorts of ice machines in the rooms. It's no different to every other footballer. They've all got their niggles."

With several ice machines scattered throughout their accommodation at The Star casino, skipper Cordner has been able to ice his troublesome knee around the clock.

He skipped a team bonding session where his teammates trekked up to the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge at sunset in order to rehab his right leg.


Boyd Cordner of the NSW Blues  during Game 1 of the State of Origin series at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, Wednesday,  May 31, 2017. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt) NO ARCHIVING
Boyd Cordner grabs at his troublesome right knee during game one off the State of Origin series at Suncorp Stadium. DAVE HUNT

Cordner's knee is something he'll be forced to deal with his entire career but he's not alone.

Morris required several rounds of knee surgery last year after battling with cartilage problems in 2015.

An arthroscope and stem cell treatment saw him miss the 2016 Origin series.

The issues have prompted a lengthy routine performed at home or the team hotel.

"I could spend anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes on the bands," Morris said.

"It can be quite extensive and quite a workout without having to lift too heavy a weight. That helps you maintain strength and stay fit."

At 24, James Tedesco isn't immune from knee issues.

He's had a host of operations in his young career. He snapped his knee cap in 2014 which led to two metal screws and a wire inserted around the bone to hold everything in place.

He had the screws taken out in the off-season.

While he hasn't spent the week next to the ice bucket, he's made three trips to the masseuse for deep tissue massage work and completes a lengthy warm-up routine before every training run.


(L to R) NSW State of Origin NRL players Aaron Woods, David Klemmer, Josh Jackson and James Tedesco arrive for a training session in Sydney on Thursday, June 15, 2017. The second match of the three game State of Origin series will by held in Sydney on June 21. (AAP Image/Paul Miller) NO ARCHIVING
Jameds Tedesco (right) arrives at training with teammates (from left) Aaron Woods, David Klemmer and Josh Jackson. PAUL MILLER

"I do a lot of physical prep before every training session," Tedesco said.

"There's a lot of stuff I took for granted coming through like stretching and warming up. Now I take it very seriously.

"The tighter I am is when I'm prone to injuries. In 2013 or 14 I had everything strapped up but now I don't bother. I see Anth (masseuse Anthony Carbone) and he gives me peace of mind.

"I fire my glutes up and keep them strong and everything around my knees. I'll do lunges before the game."

Tedesco will repeat the process inside the ANZ Stadium dressing sheds on Wednesday.

Come game day, Tyson Frizell will receive a painkilling injection to his troublesome rib and the Blues will go through about 10 rolls of strapping tape plus a few metres worth of Kinesiology tape.

If the television cameras are turned on early enough, you'll see Tedesco doing walking lunges while his teammates get dressed and Morris will perform a range of exercises, both upper and lower body.

"I have certain exercises I do on game day and I go through a full body workout. I do 10 minutes before going out for warm-up just to switch everything on," Morris said.

"I want to make sure I'm ready to go as soon as we run onto the field. It's something the physio got me doing and I found it very beneficial and still do it."