NSW Blues coach Brad Fittler has a launched an attack at Wally Lewis Medal judge Darren Lockyer for the controversial decision to award Queensland fullback Billy Slater the player of the Origin series.
Slater’s Wally Lewis Medal crowning has been met with backlash from the NRL community, predominately amongst Blues fans, given Queensland lost the series and the Storm star played in two games.
Lockyer has since revealed that the gap between Slater and the next best Origin player was “significant”, as he voted with a 4,3,2,1 system on each game along with fellow judges Mal Meninga and Laurie Daley.
Previously playing down the decision, Fittler got on the front foot on Chanel Nine’s Sunday Footy Show, expressing his confusion to Lockyer as to how Slater could have gotten so many votes given the climate of the series.
“I couldn’t understand why Billy was so far ahead (in the votes),” Fittler said on the Sunday Footy Show.
“Considering Billy is an attacking player and what he does to a team is create numbers … in the second game they had the opportunity with 12 (NSW) players in the last 10 minutes to win the game. That’s what Billy does, Billy should have taken control then.
“To be the best player, to be that far ahead on points, that’s why I couldn’t understand why (James) Tedesco, (Damien) Cook, maybe Tom Trbojevic, James Maloney … Billy had that opportunity in game two and didn’t take it, that’s why I couldn’t understand how he had so many points.
“Outside that it’s all opinion, it’s good debate.
“I think he had a great game, and his start to the game was excellent and really got them on the front foot and gave them the zip they needed.
“But to not nail the end, I couldn’t understand how he got so many points in game two that had him so far in front of everyone else.”
Footy show host Peter Sterling came to the defense of the voters’ judgement, but Fittler came straight back at him.
“That’s why we put them in that difficult situation because they are the people we want to pick the award,” Fittler said.
Lockyer simply rebutted by saying “we’ve got to own the decision,” conceding that the voting system may need to be revamped as part of the Origin series review.
“Obviously the system can be better and it’s being reviewed, there will be changes made that will get a better outcome,” Lockyer said on the Sunday Footy Show.
“I think the points system works for a (man of the match) … then you have to step aside from game three and then look at the series overall, and between the three of us decide who we think has been the most influential and best player across the series.
“It’s been very controversial and I’m sure there will be tweaks made.”