BY A.J NASH AND SCOTT DILLON
Has any coach in the history of the game lost so much goodwill with the fans than New South Wales boss Brad Fittler in the last couple of weeks?
Fittler was a breath of fresh air in 2018 and his crazy way of doing things worked for his young Blues who went on to win the series. Everyone loved him and his daring batch of rookies.
But a few little cracks turned into the Grand Canyon in Game I up in Brisbane two weeks ago. Fittler’s interchange rotation was blasted by everyone. He dragged 29-year-old rookie playmaker Cody Walker off the field after 60 minutes only to throw him back on. He played forwards out of position. Left others on the bench too long. In one of the most entertaining, closest Origin games in history, Fittler’s interchange management from up in the box cost NSW the match.
Then he announced his team for Game II.
You know what hit the fan.
Fittler confirmed seven changes including the axing of superstar centre Latrell Mitchell.
Fittler, nor his coaching staff, had time to pull Mitchell aside at some point and tell him the news. Instead, it was left to Roosters and NSW captain Boyd Cordner to tell him after their win over Canterbury. Happy birthday, Latrell.
Cordner and fellow teammate Angus Crichton (who had also been sacked) both found out while doing radio interviews post-game.
Mitchell and other centre from Game I Josh Morris are gone.
They’ve been replaced by a fullback in Tom Trbojevic and five-eigth Jack Wighton.
Fittler said Mitchell didn’t “meet expectations” in Game I.
Did Nathan Cleary?
Then there were Fittler’s comments about dumped half Cody Walker.
Not only did Fittler crap on Walker, he embarrassed returning veteran James Maloney as well.
“Well I rang Braith Anasta and he said he couldn’t play, so Jimmy was the last five eighth that was standing.”
Young Newcastle prop Daniel Saifiti has also been thrown straight in the deep end and will start on Sunday evening. Saifiti hasn’t really set the world on fire this year at the Knights.
And the bench looks eerily similar to the one from the first clash that everybody said was ‘too small’.
How many people can Fittler alienate?
Has anybody done it as quickly as he?
Only a series win will silence the critics.
The question is, should he be sacked if NSW lose Game II?