SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 21: Blues coach Brad Fittler talks to players during a New South Wales Blues State of Origin training session at Coogee Oval on June 21, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Blues Coach Brad Fittler has revealed his reasoning behind the choices to start Jack Wighton at centre, Stephen Crichton on the bench and Josh Addo-Carr missing out.

Wighton's selection was no surprise. Fittler's fondness isn't a secret. He's a big body and can play almost any position.

What was surprising is that Stephen Crichton, a star centre for the Penrith Panthers, was selected on the bench.

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Comfortability with Wighton and reluctance to blood two debutant centres (with Kotoni Staggs also named) weighed on Fittler's mind. 

“Jack has had five games at left centre for us and they’ve all been good, and he’s been a part of our group for a long time,” Fittler told the Sydney Morning Herald.

“Bringing new people into the group is always a positive and an enlightening thing to do, but you need to put them around people who have been there before.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 10: Jack Wighton of the Blues runs with the ball during game three of the 2019 State of Origin series between the New South Wales Blues and the Queensland Maroons at ANZ Stadium on July 10, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

“I think it would have been risky. Jack had a couple of weeks off and he looks really fresh. His last two games have really helped me with the decision.

“Jack actually looks fast again. He’s always tough and willing. It’s hard to work out what position is his best, be it five-eighth, centre or fullback, but he’s just so wholehearted."

Able to play any position other than front row, fans were confused as to why Wighton wasn't named as a bench utility. 

Crichton, who gained experience in the 2021 extended squad, is ready for any role.

If Nathan Cleary or Jarome Luai were to go down, it's assumed Crichton would move to centre with Wighton shifting to the halves.

“I’ve played fullback, wing centre the only position I haven’t played is hooker and front-row. Wherever Freddy needs me I’ll play,” Crichton said.

The biggest omission was Josh Addo-Carr, NSW Blues incumbent, speedster and ever-consistent winger. Fittler said the decision came down to Daniel Tupou earning the spot, not Addo-Carr losing it.

State of Origin - QLD v NSW: Game 1
ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 04: Josh Addo-Carr of the Blues celebrates scoring a try during game one of the 2020 State of Origin series between the QueenslandMaroons and the New South Wales Blues at the Adelaide Oval on November 04, 2020, in Adelaide, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

“Josh has been down on form,” Fittler said.

“Daniel has played his way into the side. He was here two years ago and was one of our best players. He was playing back in 2014 when NSW won the series. [Wighton] knows what it takes to beat Queensland."

“What ‘Foxx’ brings to the team not just on the field but off it, it was a hard decision. It was a tough decision. But Daniel deserves it.”