Fittler laments what might have been as Maroons avoid series whitewash
"Losing stinks." Brad Fittler put it bluntly after a couple of brain explosions and a monumental defensive effort cost NSW a rare crack at an Origin clean sweep.
The Blues coach then urged his players to maintain the rage at NRL level or risk missing the chance to defend their title in 2019.
Fittler praised a superb NSW defensive effort that saw them go into halftime shock 12-8 leaders, despite having only 30 per cent of first half possession.
But with the Maroons closing out an 18-12 win , Fittler could not hide his disappointment at losing for the first time in the Origin arena as a coach.
With 13 rookies blooded throughout the series and 11 of them experiencing their first defeat to Queensland, Fittler urged his NSW players to take their experiences back to club level in order to stay in sky blue next season.
"It's pretty awful but that's what we expect," Fittler said.
"They were pretty brave. It was made pretty tough for them, the way Queensland played and whether it was decisions or things just didn't really go our way.
"They've got to go back and be better at their club. I think that was the big thing between games one and two and two and three. You've got to go back and be good and get better.
"If they don't, I'm sure there will be someone else that will climb over the top of them.
"The good thing about NSW is there's plenty of competition at the moment, a lot of Sydney teams are doing really well so we've got to take advantage of that and the boys have got to keep getting better.
"You look at Queensland and what they did, they jagged a couple early and then the players just kept getting better because their combinations got better.
"They worked hard back at their clubs, they played at winning clubs. That's what our boys need to, go and create good environments back at their clubs and create winning teams."
While NSW went into the break with serious momentum, an early second half brain fade by Tariq Sims handed Queensland prime field position, with a critical Valentine Holmes try resulting almost immediately afterwards.
Fittler was diplomatic on his rookie back-rower's moment of madness, which saw Sims drive Hunt several metres backwards in a tackle as the Queensland utility stood at marker having made what the on-field referees dubbed a "dominant tackle."
"Ben Hunt pulled him, so he shouldn't have been touching him," Fittler said.
"The fact that Tariq was silly enough to go through with it, we'll cop it on the chin but we didn't win any 50-50's at all.
"But to win 3-0 you've got to do some pretty special things and to overcome a lot of adversity. We lacked a little bit there under pressure, a few little discipline areas let us down.
"To hang in there like we did and we had a crack at them at the death which would've been a lovely finish, but it wasn't to be. I'm really proud of them."
In the only judiciary charge of the night, Blues prop David Klemmer is facing a fine after being charged with tripping Ben Hunt in the 64th minute.
With an early guilty plea, Klemmer will be fined $1350. If he chooses to contest the charge and loses, the fine is $1800.