Fittler shuts down NSW coaching talk
As the aftermath of State of Origin continues to unfold, the culture of the New South Wales Blues has been called into question by many.
As Laurie Daley’s coaching future for the Blues hangs in the balance, there are commentators pointing to fellow Origin legend Brad Fittler to pick up the pieces and restore the side with a healthy culture.
However, on the announcement of next year’s Origin opener at the Melbourne Cricket Ground with tickets on sale on Thursday, Fittler distanced himself from the possibility of himself leading the Blues next year.
Fittler shot down any questions about taking the role saying: "The job’s not available. There’s no job and I wouldn’t discuss it at the moment anyway."
However, he lamented New South Wales's overall performance throughout the series.
"It’s sad the way our series went backwards," Fittler said. "We started off so powerfully and then by the end we were dominated.
"Everything started so strong and then all the reports lately about behavior and everyone starts trying to crack down, they want answers.
"We’ve got to work out why that happened and why they thought it was kosher and what New South Wales players should be doing. Whether you call that culture, poor choices, whatever it is, we need to be better."
The Blues are left to figure out what went wrong after many called it a changing of the guard when they ambushed Queensland 28-4 in Game One. Their task to improve from a disappointing result won’t be made any easier, particularly as team selector Darren Lockyer claimed Queensland were fortunate to execute their changeover of eras and still seal the remarkable series comeback win.
"The key is, and we’ve spoken about it for a number of years, is the transition with the aging champions we have," Lockyer said. "Bringing talented players into the system is great but we also need to create some leaders as well. For the next couple of years, we’ll be getting those talented players who could be there for the next decade and improve their leadership qualities.
"Game One highlighted it was time to pull the trigger and make that happen. We were prepared for some short-term pain but this year, through maybe a little bit of luck and some good performance, we’ve so far seen that transition has been seamless but there’s still a long way to go.
"We probably didn’t envisage New South Wales to play as poor as they did (in Game Three) but we’ll take it."
The leaders Lockyer speaks of in captain Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk, Billy Slater and Johnathan Thurston were the difference makers once again as they have been in Queensland’s past 12-year dominance, losing just one series in that time.
It’s those sorts of special characters that Fittler desperately seeks for the Blues and their future.
"They do it really well – they’ve handled pressure for a long time," Fittler said. "Those same players do it week in, week out. They practice it every week and when they’re training I’m sure they practice it every day. Maybe we need to take that on board.
"It’s all down to their effort, discipline and how they’ve carried themselves on and off the field.
"We didn’t have to do much more. We were a missed tackle and a missed passed away in Game Two – it was so close but then we panicked under the pressure.
"It’s up to [our] players to want to do it every day. It takes a lot of hard work and sacrifice and discipline. It’s up to them."