Blues coach Brad Fittler believes the healthy state of NRL clubs in NSW is a major contributor to the talent pool of players to choose from ahead of the 2022 Ampol State of Origin series.
Fittler flew to Perth's Optus Stadium on Wednesday alongside former Origin stars Greg Inglis and Craig Wing to launch the June 26 clash with tickets now officially on sale.
NSW were convincing winners 38-6 over Queensland in the first ever Origin match in Western Australia in 2019, with Fittler labelling the last fixture there one of the greatest nights in his coaching career.
The third longest-serving coach behind Phil Gould and Laurie Daley, Fittler is contracted to the NSWRL until at least the 2022 series and will be chasing a fourth series win in five years.
He said it was the likes of NRL club captains James Tedesco, Nathan Cleary and Isaah Yeo, Cameron Murray and Junior Paulo, who provided the base on the field.
"One of the things we’ve spoken about when we first started was we didn’t really have any captains in our team and now we’ve got about six," Fittler told NRL.com.
"It used to be Melbourne, the Cowboys and Broncos at the top of the NRL ladder and now it’s the Panthers, Parra and other NSW teams.
"That was a big thing when we weren’t doing so well and now we’re doing better.
"They’re winning week-to-week. It’s made a real difference, you get players coming in who are part of winning teams and cultures."
Although the 2022 series won't get underway until June 8, Fittler and his coaching staff, including new assistant coach Paul McGregor, have already begun preparations for this year's campaign.
Part of the Blues schedule will include more community events than ever after COVID-19 placed the team in bubbles in previous years.
"That’s a big part of State of Origin," Fittler said.
"We’ve already got some things planned especially around the floods that have occurred recently so will be able to release more information in the coming weeks.
"The players are aware of what’s going on outside of footy, a lot are from country regions and have been to places affected across the state so can understand what devastation these weather events can do."
Fittler will narrow in on choosing a squad later in the season ahead of a coaching battle with fellow Channel Nine commentator and new Maroons coach Billy Slater.
"My hardest job is picking a team, it is, but normally by that time all the players start picking themselves," Fittler said.
"They did a pretty good job last year so you just really wish them all the best from a fitness point of view at this time of the year.
"More than anything you just hope they all come through unscathed."
Ampol Little Origin is back in 2022!
Fittler added he wasn't concerned by the demotion of Blues back-rower Tariq Sims at the Dragons to start the NRL season.
Sims was a standout on the edge for NSW last year but has begun the year in reserve grade.
"I think there’s a lot of players who are coming off injuries and a disrupted pre-season," Fittler said.
"I believe he’s coming through now and getting a bit of fitness back first so it will be up to Tariq now."