NSW embrace Volkanovski's 'killer mindset'

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NSW halfback Nathan Cleary says he felt starstruck when UFC featherweight world champion Alex Volkanovski made a guest appearance at Blues training on Thursday.

Volkanovski, who fights Max Hollaway at UFC276 next month, spent an hour with the Blues on Thursday before watching them hit the field.

The only concern for Brad Fittler's side was a dislocated finger to centre Kotoni Staggs in training, but Blues medical staff were able to pop it back in.

Volkanovski was a handy league player with the Warilla Gorillas in the NSW Group 7 competition on the state's south coast and won the Mick Cronin Medal as the competition's best player in 2011, before his sporting career took him to the UFC.

Cleary confessed he was in awe of the 33-year-old who shared stories about overcoming adversity in the octagon.

"He was giving us a bit of insight into his mindset," Cleary said.

"It was awesome to meet him and he's a great bloke.

"He really does have that killer mindset. I was fangirling hard and we got to hold the belts and it was pretty incredible."

Sydney Roosters winger Daniel Tupou has been blessed with visits from Australia's best fighters in recent times.

In pre-season training the Roosters were given a pep talk by lightweight world champion George Kambosos Jr., who fights Devin Haney in Melbourne on Sunday.

Tupou said the lessons learned from both fighters served as reminders of what was required on the field.

"He (Volkanovski) talked to us about having that mental resilience when you're in the tough places," he said.

"You don't want to take the easy way out.

"He's shown how it's done in the ring and knows what it's like to go to places which make you feel uncomfortable."

There were no wrestling sessions on the mats at the NSWRL Centre of Excellence, but Volkanovski fielded questions from the Blues players.

He said his main message to Fittler's side was about keeping calm while being under pressure.

"I accept these dark places and I try to stay composed and to not panic," he said.

"When you don't panic under the heat in the dark places, that is what really gets you through.

"Obviously technique will get you a long way but if you're panicking and not prepared well enough, it isn't going to be good enough.

"Your talent won't get you through all the time, that's something that I feel like I'm a good example of - it's not always about talent and being athletically gifted."

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