2022-06-26 23:24:00

NSW coach Brad Fittler scoffed at suggestions “Fun Freddy” was back after a tough couple of weeks, adamant his demeanour hadn’t changed too much between the first and second games of this year’s State of Origin series.

The Blues levelled things up at 1-1 with a comprehensive 44-12 win in Perth on Sunday night, sending things to a decider in Brisbane next month.

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Burton’s FOUR standout moments in Game 2 | 02:03

There were suggestions from rugby league pundits and media in the aftermath of Queensland’s 16-10 win in Game 1 that Fittler was feeling the pressure, resulting in him making seven changes to his squad for Game 2 (although one of them was forced after Jack Wighton was ruled out with Covid).

Since taking over in 2018, Fittler has established a reputation for being laid-back and willing to have a laugh even while dealing with the stress of Origin. But many suggested the tension was weighing on him as the Blues headed to Western Australia for Sunday’s do-or-die match.

The Penrith and Roosters legend was able to breathe a sigh of relief after Nathan Cleary masterminded a 32-point triumph but was adamant in the post-match press conference he was still the same man as he was when Game 1 didn’t go NSW’s way.

Reporter: “I know we talked about ‘Fun Freddy’ being back but … you were feeling it (the pressure), weren’t you, during the week?”

Fittler: “I’m now 50, I don’t drink anymore so ask my wife, she thinks I’m that boring.”

Reporter: “You looked way more fun tonight.”

Fittler: “The fun went a while ago actually, about 20 years (laughs).”

Reporter: “You were a little bit, sort of tense.”

Fittler: “It is what it is, it’s a tense situation. You’ve got to win.”

Journo: “I’m not criticising you, that’s what I’m saying.”

Fittler: “I’m just telling you, we had to win — simple as that. Now they (NSW players) will know what it feels like so we need to somehow keep the burn.”

Brad Fittler will want to see a repeat of Perth’s demolition job in the decider. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)
Brad Fittler will want to see a repeat of Perth’s demolition job in the decider. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

After Origin I, Fittler pinpointed Queensland’s dominance in the ruck as the primary reason for their win, hinting referee Ashley Klein’s unwillingness to blow penalties encouraged the Maroons to hold on in defence and slow down the speed of the play-the-ball.

Fittler met with referees boss Jared Maxwell afterwards to discuss his issues with the series opener in Sydney, but he’ll have no such complaints this time around as some fans suggested NSW got the rub of the green from the whistleblower on Sunday.

“The time in the play-the-ball was a lot more similar,” Fittler told reporters when asked for his view on how the ruck was controlled in Perth.

“But it came more to our effort. I thought they (Queensland) pushed the ref and he allowed it (in Game 1) but on our side, it was more our effort.

“It was a criticism of us, more so than anyone else.

“I thought they were a lot better tonight.”

NSW make light work of QLD in Game 2! | 03:04

Footy greats Phil Gould and Paul Vautin were among many to blow up at the sin-binning of Queensland forward Felise Kaufusi late in the first half for what appeared to be a minor indiscretion.

Referee Klein said Kaufusi was slapped with a 10-minute spell because of his team’s repeated infringements in the ruck, the Maroons giving away too many penalties and set restarts in a short space of time.

“I thought what had happened was we were starting to get the better of them and the only way they were keeping up was giving away penalties,” Fittler said when asked if he thought the sin-binning was justified.

“It’s the only thing you can do. I thought it was warranted.”

Referee Ashley Klein sent Felise Kaufusi to the bin in Perth. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

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Source by [graycupnews.com]

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