2023 State of Origin - NSW v QLD: Game 3
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 12: Bradman Best of the Blues celebrates with team mates after scoring a try during game three of the State of Origin series between New South Wales Blues and Queensland Maroons at Accor Stadium on July 12, 2023 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

New South Wales Blues coach Brad Fittler has admitted it was a relief to see the changes he made work for Game 3 of the Origin series.

The Blues had made changes between Game 1 and 2 of the series, but ultimately, they didn't work, with the men from south of the Tweed forced to defend a possible series whitewash during the dead rubber at Homebush on Wednesday.

Fittler rung the changes for the decider, but for the most part, they worked. Of the seven, Cody Walker and Bradman Best were among the best on the ground for New South Wales, while Reagan Campbell-Gillard led the forward pack superbly.

The coach said that the changes, combined with the fact players who had played in the opening two games were in attendance to watch the game and support their teammates (a party led by Nicho Hynes attended the game), left New South Wales going in the right direction.

"It's just relieving really," Fittler said on his changes working.

"It was great to see some of the blokes that were in the first couple of games turn up. At the end of the day, you need to go now with 30 players. 17 or 18 just doesn't cut it with the amount of injuries and the things that go on throughout the year.

"If our players who didn't play in this game are happy to turn up and support, you become a much stronger outfit.

"The actions of the other players who came in tonight says to me that we are going in the right direction, so I think it's a really good start. Going on to win the game helps, and they have to go back and do it for their clubs now before being the best players next year," Fittler said when asked if the Blues could build momentum off the back of Game 3."

Quizzed on centre Bradman Best who scored a double on debut, Fittler said the centre has always had the ability, although it will be up to him to perform consistently for the Knights.

"He was so good," Fittler said.

"I think he has always had that, and I think everyone has seen it for a long time.

"He is at a club who hasn't done well for a long time, and it's now up to him to take it to that next level and be good every week. To see him score some tries was just wonderful.

"A lot of fans, once they absorbed the fact he was playing, I think they were excited."

The changes, in some ways, seemed to take Queensland by surprise, but coach Billy Slater claimed that wasn't the case.

He had suggested pre-game that he was fully expecting the Blues to play a different brand of football in Game 3 to the one presented in Games 1 and 2.

"I don't get surprised," Slater said.

"I know the strength of players. As an opposition coach, I focus on the strengths of players, and the players that are actually in the team. A lot of people focus on who is not in the team and maybe their weaknesses, so I understand what Cody Walker brings to the footy team, I understand Koloamatangi, Bradman Best, Reagan Campbell-Gillard."