2022-07-10 23:26:00

Reagan Campbell-Gillard’s controversial State of Origin omission continues to be debated heading into the decider on Wednesday night.

The Parramatta prop played in Game 1 but was overlooked for Games 2 and 3 — notably missing another call-up even when the Blues lost debutant Jordan McLean to injury last week.

Newcastle forward Jacob Saifiti will make his Origin debut at Suncorp Stadium, with Blues coach Brad Fittler denying suggestions Campbell-Gillard’s omission was because of a personality issue.

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“It was my call,” Fittler told Fairfax of the surprise selection. “I think Reagan just has a style of footy and right now mostly he doesn’t suit the way we want to play.

“But I love the way he’s gone back to Parramatta. He’s doing some really good things. So I wish him all the best.

“I was my decision to go with Jacob. I’ve always been very open and clear with Reagan and we spoke about his footy and what we need at different times, and it was my decision.”

But the decision — and Fittler’s explanation — has been criticised, with veteran Daily Telegraph reporter Phil Rothfield struggling to make sense of the call.

“I don’t want to be critical of a debutant for the NSW side because they’ve dreamt of putting that NSW jersey on … but I do not understand Jacob Saifiti being in that side as a replacement for Jordan McLean ahead of Reagan Campbell-Gillard,” Rothfield said on the Big Sports Breakfast on Monday.

“Statistics are not everything but you look at what they’ve done at club level this year — Campbell-Gilliard 135m a game, Saifiti 83m. Campbell-Gillard has made 13 tackle busts for the Parramatta Eels, Saifiti just one

“I still say there’s something very, very fishy going on about Campbell-Gilliard’s non-selection in that side. I thought he played strongly for Parramatta against the Wests Tigers on the weekend.”


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Rumours have swirled that there are issues between Campbell-Gillard and players from his former club Penrith, which he left in 2019 to join the Eels.

“He left Penrith in unhappy circumstances a few years ago and Ivan Cleary made it clear he didn’t want him there and he contributed significantly to his contract at the Parramatta Eels,” Rothfield said.

“Whteher there is a relationship problem with the seven Penrith players that are in that side, I don’t know.

“Brad Fittler claimed that right now he basically doesn’t suit the way NSW wants to play which I thought was an odd comment and he didn’t explain why he went for Jacob Saifiti before him.

“If I was going to pick any front rower from the Newcastle Knights, who have been down the ladder for most of the year, probably would have gone David Klemmer.

I hope I’m wrong because I desperately want the Blues to win but when selections like this are made I think you’ve got to question them, it’s our job to and I would have gone a different way that’s for sure, and I think a lot of people would have.”

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Former Blues coach Laurie Daley said he thought Fittler was likely telling the truth when it came to the selection.

“I can only go on Freddy’s word that it’s got nothing to do with the Penrith players not wanting him there. It comes down to the style of what they think they need from their forwards,” Daley said.

“Personally I think he doesn’t suit Freddy’s style. He’s not a player that Freddy likes. The actions in what he does that Freddy looks and goes, you know what, I don’t like that, it doesn’t suit.

“It might be his mobility through the middle in defence , it might be his ability to cover ground in short space, how he tie in from the inside. There’s a lot of things that go into picking a front rower rather than just carrying the ball.”

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Source by [graycupnews.com]


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