Brad Fittler appears to be on track to retain his position as the head coach of NSW. This follows his extensive presentation to the NSWRL board during a meeting on Friday, with tentative indications pointing towards his continuation.
His continuance, however, isn’t without conditions. Necessity for Fittler to agree to a one-year contract, and outlining his choices for support staff in a subsequent meeting are noteworthy caveats.
Adding to his support team, Fittler could consider coaching prowess such as Michael Ennis or Phil Gould, or even Ivan Cleary, who he consulted during the third game. Ricky Stuart, a previous series-winning coach for NSW, presents the only challenge to Fittler’s position for the 2024 Origin, granted Fittler gets the nod.
In Friday’s board meeting, Fittler shared a comprehensive analysis of the Blues’ 2-1 series defeat to Queensland, hinting, for the first time, at his wish to continue leading NSW. Post the third game, Fittler admitted that had they not managed to salvage some pride by winning the third game 24-10 against the Maroons, his position would be compromised.
Fittler cited the need to mull over whether he was willing to commit to coach the Blues in 2024.
Impressive in its specificity and logic, Fittler’s presentation reportedly resonated with the board members and CEO, David Trodden. But Fittler would be aware that changes are required, given the criticism his camp and techniques received throughout the 2023 series.
Fittler is due back next month with a blueprint for 2024.
Fittler’s selection of Nicho Hynes, winner of the Dally M medal, in the first Origin game and later moving him to right-centre, earned him a fair share of criticism. Further significant changes to the squad for the third game did not help his cause.
Overhauling seven players for the third game was the highest number of changes since 2019 and most for a third game since 2010.
With his 18th Origin game under his belt, Fittler is second to Gould in terms of most matches coached for NSW.
Ryan Girdler, a former NSW Origin centre, says that the Blues’ performance in the third game showed that Fittler still had what was required to lead top tier players.
Though admitting Fittler’s likely exhaustion, Girdler, speaking on Triple M, highlighted Fittler’s evident rapport with the playing group, saying that his ability to motivate was evident in the outcome of the third game. He added, “If he has the vigour, he’s undoubtedly the right person.”