PERTH, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 17: Brad Fittler, coach of New South Wales looks on before the team photo during a New South Wales Blues State of Origin media opportunity at the Scarboro Surf Life Saving Club on June 17, 2019 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

All eyes were on Brad Fittler on Sunday evening as the Blues coach prepared to name a side to keep the Origin series alive.

All weekend rumours ran wild about who had made the side and who would make way.

Some of the names being mentioned were left field to say the least while some of those being mentioned as missing out were ridiculous.

We all had our say on who we thought would be picked and who deserved to be picked. I’m not ashamed to say I was unable to predict the side.

Anyone who did … is telling fibs.

We look at the biggest talking points below and ask whether Fittler is a genius or if he has effectively just handed the series to the Maroons:

THE omission:

With all due respect to Josh Morris, Angus Crichton and Cody Walker, one omission from the squad shocked the entire rugby league fan base.

Latrell Mitchell has been left out of the squad entirely for the do or die trip to the west coast.

I still don’t totally believe it actually happened.

It certainly should not have happened.

Latrell had a poor Origin One. He was comprehensively outpointed by sparing partner Will Chambers.

QLD made inroads down his side all night and it wasn’t until the final moments that we saw the Roosters mega star have any impact in attack.

This has been the public reason he was dropped in favour of fullback turn five-eighth turned centre Jack Wighton.

First up, Latrell may have had a sub-par game in Brisbane but Wighton threw the game turning intercept pass…

Latrell Mitchell will be watching a do or die game from the comfort of his own living room.

The same Latrell Mitchell who absolutely wrecked the QLD’s right-hand side last series. The same Latrell Mitchell who, just weeks ago, was the best centre in the game.

Many experts had him as the best player in the world.

Although he hasn’t been at his world-beating best as of late he’s still the most dangerous centre in the game.

James Maloney was named in the side, presumably to feed Latrell the early ball that made him a difference maker in the 2018 series.

Instead, Maloney has lost the weapon that delivered him a maiden origin series victory last year.

I’m in shock.

I assumed Morris would make way for Tommy Turbo, especially following the Cotric news, but to drop Mitchell for an out of position centre … Huge gamble!!!

Finally:

Melbourne Storm lock and Mr consistent Dale Finucane has finally been named to make his Origin debut.

Given some of the names being mentioned over the weekend, it looked as though Finucane would join Jarrod Croker as Origin’s unluckiest non-selections.

He’ll likely play as a prop off the bench but whatever role he is asked to play I’m sure he’ll excel.

Brilliant selection.

The Bolter:

When David Klemmer was announced as unavailable a plethora of names were mentioned as his possible replacement.

Even more names were suggested as Payne Haas was ruled out.

Kangaroo bookends Jordan McLean and Aaron Woods are unavailable meaning a debutant was likely to be named or a former origin prop brought back in.

Matt Prior and Reagan Campbell-Gillard seemed the obvious choices having done the job last season.

Matt Lodge was shortlisted, while calls to return James Tamou to the Origin arena grew louder.

Instead, Fittler has opted for 23-year-old Knights prop Daniel Saifiti.

The announcement shocked plenty, myself included, as this shapes as a monumental risk on such a massive occasion.

Fittler will hope Saifiti will continue his one-man wrecking crew mission of past weeks as he targeted opposition halves.

If Saifiti can pester Munster and DCE into poor games than this will go down as a genius selection.

If he doesn’t, massive questions will be asked.

The Risks:

After losing both Klemmer and Haas to injury, Fittler has named a four-man bench without any recognized props.

Finucane, Sims and Trbojevic can all play the role, but overlooking the aforementioned options is a risk.

Wade Graham, for all his talent, is only two half-games into a return from a serious ACL injury suffered in last year’s prelim final.

Fittler has also taken a risk in making Blake Ferguson in the side.

The Eels winger has all the talent in the world but has not enjoyed a positive origin career to date.

Let’s hope he takes this chance as there surely won’t be another.

Personally, I love the Finucane inclusion, don’t hate the Saifiti call but the decision to recall Ferguson is a head scratcher considering Fittler’s selection policy to date.

Cody Walker is extremely unlucky to miss out to Maloney.

I can’t believe Latrell was pushed aside to play a five-eighth at centre.

It may be hyperbole but the result of this game may decide Fittler’s coaching future. I guarantee win or lose that the decision to drop Mitchell will dominate discussion well past the siren on Sunday night.

What did you make of the side? Let us know below whether you think Freddy is a genius or if his left-field approach has handed the shield to our neighbours to the north?

13 COMMENTS

  1. He is gone defensive. Good move I think look who he brought in Saifiti, Wighton, Turbo, Finucane, Sims, An Ferguson all really strong defensive players. Then the experience of Maloney with the cool head. We will win this one. Go Blues 🍺🍺🍺🍺

  2. Genius lol . What coach points the finger at certain players after a defeat. League is a team game . Qld grew another leg and smashed the Blues in defence from the 45 to 60 minute mark. The Blues were beaten up , it was not one players fault. Cody was conservative as a 1st gamer would and Latrell had a very bad night by his standards. Their were a lot more than those couple . A halfback out of form and and still very questionable to whether he is up to Origin standard a pack unable to make yardage and outplayed , especially in the 2nd half. Fittlers use of the bench was terrible , He had full control of that . He is not a coaches buttocks. He coached a star studded Roosters out fit in his last year at the helm there. That year they won the wooden spoon and the following year after his leaving were Grand Finalists. Why he was chosen to coach the Blues in the 1st place shocked me. Now he points the finger of blame at certain players and follows up with mass sackings to a 4 point loss . He aint no genius, Freddy is far from that.

  3. Has i’ve said previous, Fittler is a crap coach, always thought so, the changes he made don’t make sense, NSW will lose this game and Fittler should be sacked if this happens, Istill can’t believe how much damage he has done to Cody Walker, to say Maloney was the last 5/8 standing next to a retired Braith Anasta is terrible, to put that much sh!t on Walker in inexcusable.

  4. Russ your starting to sound more and more like old Woody, can’t believe i fell for that, he’s dead trick at 99yrs old, cannot imagine a 99 year old being so switch on in typing and remembering so much info, hopefully you’ll keep him locked up in your head for has long as it takes Russ, now just move on from your souths supporter thing and try and be more direct at least your done with those big stupid words you used to come up with.

  5. I agree Penso, this is a pathetic effort from Freddy. So much for being the guy’s mentor. He’s supposed to support and help him. This was about looking to the future. To bag the guy is unprofessional. Any issues he had should have been dealt with behind closed doors.

  6. That’s an interesting comment/perspective.
    I can see your point, but when I first saw the squad I thought almost the exact opposite, and maybe because it was the forwards that first stood out for me, and in particular the bench.
    My first thoughts were if NSW is going to win this 1, it will be a high scoring game.
    I will also add (just an opinion/the only way I can even remotely understand it) L. Mitchell’s been left out because of an attitude issue/s. I don’t think anyone would think Wighton is a better (more talented) centre than Mitchell.
    I think we (NSW) will lose, but I hope I’m wrong, and the saddest part is because we haven’t fielded the best available team, but I hope I’m wrong.

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