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Fittler chasing Origin redemption and backs rising Rooster

NSW coach Brad Fittler says he's a better coach after last year's shock State of Origin loss and is keen to make amends in 2021, while also backing the ability of highly rated youngster Joseph Suaalii to take the step up to NRL level.

Speaking at the Blues' emerging Origin camp, with a new crop of the NRL's brightest stars gathering ahead of the 2021 season, Fittler said he had learned from mistakes made in the last series – won 2-1 by Wayne Bennett's Queensland despite the Blues starting as warm favourites.

"I had a long summer. I don't want to take anything away from [Queensland], they were fantastic. Cameron Munster, that was one of the best series I've seen by a player," Fittler said.

"There were definitely things we've learned, that we won't do again.

"I think always when you lose – if you're willing to face up to it – it makes you better. I look forward to seeing if that helps this year."

Match Highlights: Maroons v Blues

Roosters teen Suaalii was named in the squad despite being too young to make his NRL debut, but didn't appear in camp after missing the club's training session on Saturday morning with illness.

Fittler said Suaalii, who doesn't turn 18 until September, had the physical stature to cope with the NRL but that it would be up to the NRL and the Roosters to consider whether he could cope with the mental side of making the step up to first grade.

The league has said it would consider loosening the current rules restricting players from making their debut before the age of 18 in Suaalii's case.

Real deal: Tedesco impressed by young gun Suaalii

Fittler himself played for Penrith as a 17-year-old before representing NSW and Australia in his teens.

"I've seen him play rugby and league and he's obviously a talent. He's very mature athletically, physically," Fittler said of Suaalii.

"I think you've got to weight each case on its merits. Looking back, I don't know if it hurt me. But there are other examples where players didn't handle it as well.

"Whether they're going to stay with that hard and fast rule of 18, or take each player and case on its merits… that's someone else's job.

"The Roosters had Latrell Mitchell come through very young, Sam Verrils came through very young. So there's plenty of experience and mentorship there if he needs it."

Fittler was happy to see players from the junior NSW squads he'd worked with in the past making the step up to the Emerging Origin squad.

"A lot of these kids today were part of the pathways when I was coaching under-16s and -18s. So it's extending that and making sure they stay on the path that we started four or five years ago as 16-year-old kids and an inexperienced NSW coach.

"It's good to see some familiar faces.

"[Knights centre] Bradman Best just walked in, and talk about people who really lit up the NRL… he looks like someone who's going to handle the NRL for a long time. He looks like someone who could make the step up [to Origin]."

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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