Queensland coach Billy Slater says the togetherness in camp helped spur the Maroons on to a 16-10 victory over New South Wales on Wednesday night.
The Maroons are now priced at 4/11 to win the State of Origin series with games in Perth and Queensland to come.
The Queensland job is the first time Slater has ever coached at any level but is has already united the group and that was evident in Sydney in game one.
However the former Maroons and Melbourne Storm legend says all the credit has to go to the players for the way they have bonded as a group.
“I didn’t know how I was going to feel about this group, I’ve never coached before. But they feel like my family already,” Slater told reporters after the game. “I’m not saying that just to say it. I feel a real connection to these guys. They’ve been outstanding all week.
“We had a nine-hour day on Monday, it’s a long time and I didn’t hear one complaint. That’s where this group is and that’s got nothing to do with footy. There’s a real camaraderie around the group and they’re happy to be together.”
Slater also saluted his coaching staff that includes Maroons legends Josh Hannay, Cameron Smith and Johnathan Thurston. It is a masterstroke that has already paid off.
“Putting the right people around the group is important and I think it’s had an effect. An effect on our footy and an effect on the group and our attitude,” Slater added.