NSW coach Brad Fittler has made some brave selections for Origin II in Perth on Sunday. Picture: Darren England/AAP
NSW coach Brad Fittler has made some brave selections for Origin II in Perth on Sunday. Picture: Darren England/AAP

Freddie obviously doesn't possess blind faith

BLIND Freddie could see that Brad Fittler and his Blues brains trust of Greg Alexander and Danny Buderus had some uncomfortable moments before they announced the NSW team for Sunday's historic State of Origin match in Perth.

Many pundits are making much of the fact that seven changes have been to a side beaten by an intercept in the Origin opener and, on the surface, that's fair enough.

But despite his happy-go-lucky outward appearance, Fittler is no dill.

And any Queenslander underestimating the man who played 336 NRL games, 38 Tests and 31 Origins - or his team - could be in for a rude shock.

Admittedly some changes have been forced through injury, and the loss of David Klemmer up front is huge. But seriously, of the other missing six - Nick Cotric, Josh Morris, Latrell Mitchell, Cody Walker, Payne Hass and Angus Crichton - did any of them look like a game-changer in Brisbane?

Switch to game two, and at least three of the newcomers are precisely that, although Blake Ferguson and James Maloney are just as capable of changing the game in favour of the opposition. While Daniel Saifiti is an unknown quantity at this level - and a risk - Tom Trbojevic, Dale Finucane, Tariq Sims and Wade Graham are proven big-match performers.

And that is what "Freddy" Fittler and the Blues need, because this test is as big as it gets.

The Blues have won just two of the past 13 Origin series and if they are beaten in Perth the NRL's jewel in the crown could well become a tad tarnished.

Indications are that a dead rubber for Sydney would be a disaster, crowd-wise, at the cavernous former Olympic Stadium. And following reports of last-minute reduced prices at Suncorp Stadium two weeks ago, this does not reflect the kind of Origin fanaticism experienced in recent years.

But back to Fittler's Blues. The major aberration for me is the selection of Trbojevic and Jack Wighton out of position in the centres, one of the most difficult areas on the field in which to defend.

Tom Trbojevic was one of the Blues best last season. Picture: Chris Hyde/Getty Images
Tom Trbojevic was one of the Blues best last season. Picture: Chris Hyde/Getty Images

Both are talented, big, fast and strong, but between them have played just six NRL games in the positions in which they will represent their state. That is a worry for Blues fans.

Having said that, Fittler's former mentor, current advisor and the Blues' most successful coach, Gus Gould, always backed his theory to select the best players, and find a position for them - within reason, naturally. And that is exactly what Fittler has done with this side.

The non-selection of Latrell Mitchell following his shocker in Brisbane revealed an admirable trait in Fittler's character.

He axed a potential matchwinner on a principle, which should send a message to the coming generations who aspire to one day represent the Blues.

And while the Blues shuffle, Kevvie Walters sticks solid, as Queensland always does, even though he scored his team - at best - a six out of 20 in Brisbane. In Perth, they will need to be nine, at least.

News Corp Australia


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