NSW Origin coach Brad Fittler has explained his decision to axe veteran Josh Addo-Carr as the Bulldogs winger’s omission was slammed by several pundits.
Roosters flyer Daniel Tupou took the former Storm star’s spot on the Blues squad-list and Fittler revealed he was taken aback by the reaction.
“Well I’m surprised that people would be surprised,” Fittler told 9 News Sydney.
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It might not be the end for ‘The Foxx’, with the Blues coach explaining Addo-Carr is “committed” to reclaiming his spot in the Blues backline.
“He’s so unique The Foxx, just the way he is around camp,” Fittler said on SEN 1170 Breakfast.
“It’s more of a case of Daniel Tupou playing his way in, what he’s done at the Roosters, how safe he is, the way he brings the ball out of trouble.
“I feel like at the moment … I don’t think it’d be right on Foxx or the team to go into Game I.
“We’ve communicated, and he’s committed to getting back in the team.
“My line to him was, he belongs here, that was a tough one.”
Blues adviser Greg Alexander backed Fittler’s decision, revealing form played a major part in the decision to leave Addo-Carr out of the squad.
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“No, look the Foxx is out of form,” Alexander said on SEN 1170 Breakfast.
“I know you pick players, and plenty of players have still been picked when they’re out of form or not in great form, but they’ve done the job before.
“In mind with what Queensland will be picking, we just decided that we’d go with Daniel Tupou on the wing instead of Josh Addo-Carr.
“Daniel Tupou has been in great form as well, he’s also been there before, he did a great job in 2020, I thought he was one of our better players in 2020.”
Veteran Daily Telegraph reporter Phil Rothfield disagreed with the omission, saying he was disappointed with Fittler not sticking with a player who had done the job many times before.
“I’m desperately upset for Josh Addo-Carr,” Rothfield said on Sky Sports’ Big Sports Breakfast on Monday morning.
”Queensland will try an aerial attack on our wings. They’ve got Xavier Coates and they’ve got Selwyn Cobbo who are absolutely brilliant in the air and they have Cherry-Evans and Munster kicking to them both late in the tackle count. It’s an obvious threat for the NSW Blues
“But if Addo-Carr has been dropped for lack of height and lack of ability in there air, Brian To’o, the winger who survived and deservedly so … he’s shorter than Addo-Carr, he’s not great in the air either.
“… Why do you drop one winger for not being as good as Daniel Tupou is in the air, but no the other?
“What disappoints me about it is, since taking over from you Laurie (Daley), Freddy like you, you were very reluctant to change sides.
“I’m disappointed Freddy hasn’t been loyal for at least the first game in the series. Addo-Carr hasn’t played his best football but he hasn’t had opportunities at the Canterbury Bulldogs. I’m just really unhappy for him, if it was my side he’d be one of the first players chosen and always would be.”
Fox League commentator Andrew Voss was another perplexed at the call to abandon Addo-Carr, who has scored 10 tries in 12 Origin appearances.
“I think Josh Addo-Carr must have got a new mobile phone and email address when he joined @NRL_Bulldogs,” Voss tweeted. “NSW selectors obviously couldn’t contact him.
“For the record. Josh Addo-Carr in Origin. 3 series wins out of 4. 10 tries in 12 games. Only 2 players in history have scored more tries for the Blues. Member of defending champs. I just find it really odd.”
Daily Telegraph reporter Jamie Pandaram wrote it was “unbelievable for a player who has done the job in the blue jersey and is now playing for a rubbish club team. Hasn’t lost pace or the ability to make a game-winning run from his own half.”
Rugby league writer Nick Campton added: “Always been strange about who gets the benefits of incumbency and past performance in Origin and who doesn’t, but I’m totally stunned anyone could think Addo-Carr hasn’t earned a start based on what he’s done for New South Wales in the past. His record speaks for itself.”
The news of Addo-Carr’s potential axing was sprung on Bulldogs interim coach Mick Potter and captain Josh Jackson during Sunday’s post-match press conference.
At the time, his spot in the Blues squad seemed secure and both backed Fittler to select Addo-Carr in his final squad.
“Yeah, (it would surprise me). He is the incumbent, and a very good Origin player,” Potter said.
“I would be surprised if he’s not in the team, and it would be disappointing for Josh.
“I hope that’s not the case.”
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“He brings a lot to a footy team. He’s been very good in that Origin side for a few years now. He’s put in some great performances (for NSW), so it would be disappointing for him,” Jackson said.
“Just the energy he brings around the place, too – he’s pretty infectious.
“So I imagine that’s something Brad Fittler would like in his Origin camp throughout the week.”
Meanwhile, rugby league legend Mark Geyer revealed the call was a shock, but did agree with Fittler’s thinking considering the height of Queensland’s potential winger pairing.
“Is it a shock, yeah it was, I don’t think anyone saw it coming,” Mark Geyer said.
“But when you look at the centres… and you look at how big of a body he is, at 6’5.
“The Queenslanders are going to have two giants on the wing in Xavier Coates and Selwyn Cobbo, so we needed a big body, obviously the Foxx’s form has been nowhere near what it was in Melbourne.
“So I am okay with it, I am fine with it, I am happy they picked a team that is a little bit left-field.”
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