2022-04-11 21:15:00

New South Wales coach Brad Fittler has revealed the three Origin bolters in line to replace injured star Latrell Mitchell.

Mitchell suffered a hamstring injury in the Rabbitohs’ win over the Dragons last week and will be sidelined for two months.

Mitchell will miss Origin I — to be played on June 8 — which means a spot in the centres for the Blues is up for grabs.

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Fittler revealed to 9 News the three players he has in mind.

“Most centres these days play left or right, so they get in those habits,” he said.

“The ones at the moment who are playing on the left-hand side are Bradman Best, who’s been in the junior system a long time; Stephen Crichton, who can play left… and Matt Burton is another one, who is five-eighth at the moment for the Dogs but who played centre incredibly well last year for Penrith.”

Mitchell’s massive injury blow | 01:37

However, the Blues coach is hopeful he won’t even need to replace Mitchell and instead the 24-year-old will recover quicker than anticipated.

“Just knowing how much it meant to Latrell last year to get back in the team, and how well he performed, I’m holding out that eight weeks might turn into six weeks,” Fittler said.

“Every player is different, we treat every player different.

“We picked Tom Trbojevic a couple of years ago… he came back (from injury) for one game, and he did so well we brought him into the team and he was excellent.

“Just sit back and we’ll see what happens with Latrell.”


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The NRL 360 panel discussed the options Fittler has with James Hooper adding Raiders star Jack Wighton — who has played in the centres at Origin level before — and Dragons centre Zac Lomax.

“You’ve got Stephen Crichton, Matt Burton, Jack Wighton has played in the centres previously for NSW, Zac Lomax was a part o the set-up,” Hooper said.

“I like Crichton. I think he’s started the season on fire, he’s been a part of the set-up previously. The way he’s begun this year, he can play either side, he brings you real strike in attack and what’s particularly impressed me this season is the way he’s defended.”

“Did you mention Campbell Graham then? And Freddy really likes him,” Phil Rothfield responded.

“He was in their system last year and he’s got a frame. He’s big and strong like Latrell and Turbo. If he was in the squad as 18th or 19th man I think he’ll get a head start if he’s playing all right.

“But Wighton is a good option and we mentioned (Kotoni) Staggs — there aren’t many better centres in the competition when he’s right.”

Pressure continues to mount on Tigers | 05:23

Paul Kent believes it “might be the right time” for Crichton, who is destined to “play a lot of rep football,” while Braith Anasta highlighted the fact that the Panthers centre already has a booming combination with likely Blues halves Nathan Cleary and Jarome Luai.

“They could put Burton there too after his success last year and his combination with (Jarome) Luai and (Nathan) Cleary,” Anasta said.

“That’s where I think Crichton may have the edge. I think Crichton is ready, I think he’s ready for the big time.

“His form has been so good for a long period of time and again his combination with Luai and Cleary is really good.

“I’d have him just ahead of Staggs and then you’ve got Wighton and Burton and even Lomax.”

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Fittler also revealed last week that he was keeping his eye on three particular players who could get a call-up to the extended squad — and possibly a debut.

Those players are Warriors workhorse Josh Curran, Sharks hooker Blayke Brailey and Roosters enforcer Victor Radley.

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Source by [graycupnews.com]


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