Laurie Daley hasn’t received much love from Commentary Box Sports in his role as NSW Origin coach, but that hasn’t diminished our opinion of the great ‘Loz’ as one of the finest players of his generation.
Daley combined breathtaking flashes of individual brilliance and an intense competitive streak to become one of the modern era’s most dominant match-winners.
A 17-year-old first grade debutant with Canberra in 1987, the Junee product starred in the Raiders’ 1989-90 premiership victories at centre, but his devastating running game and playmaking instincts saw him become the heir apparent to Wally Lewis as the game’s premier five-eighth, wearing the No.6 in the 1994 Grand Final triumph.
Daley toured with the 1990 and 1994 Kangaroos (the latter as vice-captain), and assumed the NSW Origin captaincy at just 22 in 1992, spearheading three straight series victories for the Blues.
The Super League war prevented him from beginning a long tenure as Test skipper, but his performances at club level remained as dazzling as ever, winning the Dally M Medal in 1995 and the Super League Player of the Year Award in 1997.
Daley resumed the Test and Origin captaincy after the game reunited in 1998, and retired from representative football the following season as arguably NSW’s greatest Origin player.
Fiercely determined and a strong defender, Daley was blessed with exquisite hands. Despite suffering a number of serious injuries, Daley was durable competitor and played a then-record 244 games for the Raiders, while the statue erected of him outside Canberra Stadium is a fitting tribute to the player regarded by many as the club’s finest.
LAURIE DALEY – CAREER STATISTICS
Canberra (1987-2000): 244 games – 87 tries, 44 goals, 9 field goals (445 points).
New South Wales (1989-99): 23 Origins – 6 tries, 1 goal (25 points).
Australia (1990-98): 21 Tests – 11 tries, 2 field goals (46 points).