Brad Fittler, head coach of the NSW Blues, refused to confirm if he will stick to the same side for State of Origin II after some of his controversial selections didn’t perform up to par in the series opener. Although players Tevita Pangai jnr and Hudson Young made some good plays, they also committed unnecessary errors, while Josh Addo-Carr looked unfit and Tom Trbojevic‘s concussion makes his selection uncertain. Latrell Mitchell‘s expected recovery from a calf injury presents Fittler with another selection dilemma as his side was outplayed by Queensland when it mattered most.
“It’s a fair way away,” Fittler said when asked if he will field the same 17 players in the rematch on June 21. “Realistically, Turbo’s out for 11 days. So he got an HIA, I think a few blokes came off injured. So we’ll see what happens in a couple of weeks, we’ll go from there.”
In the series opener, Tyson Frizell appeared to have scored a legitimate try, only for officials to rule that he was brought down short of the line. “I’m the coach of the team that didn’t win it, so I thought it was a try,” Fittler said. NSW skipper James Tedesco believed that the decision could have gone either way, saying, “If it went up for a try, they probably can’t overturn it, but it went up no try, they never overturn it.”
Despite having numerous Panthers players in the team, there seemed to be a lack of chemistry among the Blues, according to Fittler. “It didn’t look that smooth, and we got to the front, got a restart, and then from there, it just went downhill,” he said. “I thought in the last 10 minutes, we didn’t handle it very well at all, especially when they were down to 12, and I’ll go back and look at how that all happened.”
Another topic of discussion was the limited game time given to Dally M medallist Nicho Hynes, who only appeared in the final 12 minutes to replace Trbojevic. Hooker Api Koroisau played the entire game at dummy-half. “There was always the option at hooker, but I thought Api was doing a good job there, and having someone versatile there, you gotta wait for an outside back to get injured and having to be there when Tom got category one,” Fittler explained.
No Blues team has ever come back from a series-opening loss to win games in both Queensland and NSW. “No, that’s not impossible,” Fittler said. “This is obviously very tough, but it is what it is. We need to – as a group – be better. We’re gonna be better.”