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Qld coach Kevin Walters and NSW coach Brad Fittler.

Brad Fittler jumped off his Harley-Davidson in mid-February with around 5000 kilometres added to the odometer in 10 days.

And it hit him like a tonne of bricks. Exactly what he'd signed up for as NSW Blues coach.

During his playing days, anxiety attacks would knock Fittler around like no defender ever could.

Appearances at functions – the glamorous side of being the Roosters, NSW and Australian captain – could cause the champion five-eighth to spend half his night in the bathroom, mopping up a cold sweat at the thought of another camera, another interview.

That's what sparked his fascination with yoga, meditation, and trudging about footy ovals barefoot. Beats leaving a puddle of sweat behind like one famed appearance on The Footy Show during the early 2000s.

Fittler didn't crack that day in February after his Harley trek, several months before strolling into an MCG broadcast box as NSW coach.

But he caught himself before the fiercest spotlight in Australian sport did just that, with far less sympathy.  

NSW coach Brad Fittler.
NSW coach Brad Fittler. ©Grant Trouville/NRL Photos

"It was at the start of the year," Fittler tells

"I do the 'Hogs for the Homeless' ride every year and I came back from that, the NSW job had been announced and I had a lot on my plate.

"Commentary was starting, footy season was starting and it just hit me. It overwhelmed me.

"Footy doesn't overwhelm me as much as promoting it. I don't get anxious in front of cameras anymore because I've worked in TV.

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"Footy's what I know, it comes easily. But that start of the season, that was overwhelming, it put me in a spot I didn't want to be.

"But what it did do, it told me I had to look at things. I had to prep for this year, because it was going to be bigger than any other.

"I fixed a few things I had to. Dealing with stress in February and learning how to manage that then so it didn't become an issue in June."

A week on from the series finale at Suncorp Stadium, the coaches were in Perth already promoting the 2019 instalment.

Fittler is still "buggered". Kevin Walters the same, but trying to kick on, rather than kick stones, over Queensland's loss.

Blues predecessor Laurie Daley was so beaten up by previous series losses he contracted shingles after one, and didn't leave his house for three weeks after another.

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Walters is already preparing for his annual review – which will include fact-finding trips to New Zealand Super Rugby franchises and AFL clubs.

He freely concedes "cranky Kevvie" took a rare public stage this year.

"I do have an emotional side and an angry side. That's just what Origin does, it's emotional, and if you don't put yourself all the way into it you're kidding yourself". 

Queensland coach Kevin Walters.
Queensland coach Kevin Walters. ©Scott Davis/NRL Photos

Fittler has now left the country, recharging in a tropical paradise. 

"There's days when the coaching staff come downstairs going 'F--- I only got four hours sleep' and you realise what you're in for, that's how invested you are," Fittler grins.

"I remember rolling around at 2.30 in the morning going 'This is shit', just thinking crap. Trying all my exercises, everything I could and nothing's working.

"Then I'd stop and just end up laughing because all I had to do was get up and train the next day with the team, it's not like I was off for nine hours in an office.

"I could just imagine myself putting my head through the computer if that was it.

"But you always know how lucky you are and how grateful you are, that's why I'm laughing in the middle of the night, sitting there at three in the morning thinking, 'It's Origin, it's not that bad'."


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