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Fittler hints at sticking solid but new rules may change thinking

NSW coach Brad Fittler would prefer not to make wholesale changes to his side going into the 2021 series but admits he'll be guided by how the new rule changes affect the NRL Telstra Premiership.

After suffering his first series loss as Blues coach in November, Fittler was at his upbeat best at the NSWRL launch on Wednesday, less than three months after the Maroons pulled off a stunning upset.

There was no shortage of criticism for Fittler and his team in the wake of a 20-14 loss in the decider but four months on from that disappointment, the 49-year-old has been able to put it into perspective.

"I think in every game that we've lost it's been by less than a try and we've been on the attack in the last minute," Fittler said.

"It says there's a lot of character and you always look for that. I feel like we're in a good place. We'll just sit back and wait.

"The game is changing so we'll see who is doing well. You try to stick with the players who have done the job in the last couple of years. We've got 13 weeks to decide."

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Fittler was an interested observer at the Panthers-Eels trial game last Saturday and believed NRL teams would be most affected around time of ball in play.

If Origin follows suit then the intensity of the interstate contest is predicted to reach even greater heights.

"That will have a big bearing on the team and the players who have adapted to those rule changes will get picked," Fittler said.

"You've got to be fit. The trial the other night had unlimited changes … [but] with eight interchanges in Origin, they'll be cooked.

"If it's only fatigue that is the problem then it's not a bad one. If it turns into injury then it might become an issue, but they'll monitor that."

Fittler added the return of the state's lower-grade competitions was a great relief for everyone involved in rugby league across NSW.

The open men's competition, which was cancelled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will be known as 'The Knock-on Effect' NSW Cup in 2021 as part of the state's partnership with Transport NSW.

Fittler and Blues advisor Greg Alexander have been at the forefront of the road safety campaign following the death of Alexander's younger brother Ben in a car accident in 1992.

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"It's very personal and that allows me to talk about it all the time," Fittler said.

"It gets easier because I have a daughter driving. It allows me to promote the message I tell her.

"I wasn't very responsible and saw the consequences through a friend passing away."

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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