The Roar
The Roar



No rhyme or reason to Fittler's haphazard Blues selections as Maroons keep laughing at constant team changes

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7th July, 2023
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I’ve spent the last couple of days trying to make sense of the NSW team Brad Fittler has selected for the third State of Origin next Wednesday night and I think I’ve worked it out.

There isn’t a common thread through this team and the rationale for choosing each player is completely different. If you try to look for a common thread, you will be as confused as I am.

For example, in the past a dead rubber Game III has often been used to blood players. It’s an opportunity for new players to come into the squad and for coaches to see how they perform in the Origin arena, without the pressure of a series win or loss on their shoulders.

That’s potentially why we see Bradman Best in the squad. He could be part of the future Blues make-up, with this being a perfect opportunity for him to have a go.

But if we are looking to the future, why pick Cody Walker?

Bradman Best of the Knights

Bradman Best (Photo by Ashley Feder/Getty Images)

Walker is one of the best five-eighths in the NRL but given his age, I would be very surprised if we see him in the Blues squad next year.

Not only have the selections confused me (especially the bench), but the way the squad has been managed this series has left me at a bit of a loss and the result is that this is not a Blues team I feel any connection to, at all.


Nicho Hynes was a player that had been part of the Blues wider squad for at least two years. He was brought on for 10 minutes in Game I out of position, made an error and was subsequently dropped.

Stefano Utoikamanu is another similar example. Around the Blues squad, given a small chance to prove himself and then dropped.

Is this how we treat our players? Additionally don’t we need to ask questions about the set-up and coaching staff if players who are in and around the squad for a couple of years get one shot and then, depending on their performance, get pushed aside?

Reagan Campbell-Gillard is another player whose selection I just don’t understand. I am fiercely biased as a Parramatta Eels fan, but weren’t we told that the reason RCG wasn’t selected in previous years was because essentially some of the Penrith Panthers players didn’t like him.

Are we so fickle, that now Nathan Cleary and Jarome Luai are out of the squad that RCG is back in? If Cleary and Luai come back in next year, does that mean that RCG is out again?

I feel like we are doing the hokey pokey and Queensland just continue to laugh at us.

The truth is, I’m feeling disconnected from the Blues as a set up just a couple of days out from Game III. I would much rather that this dead rubber be scrapped in favour of a Game III for the women after each team had won a game apiece.


This disconnection probably won’t be helped by the announcement by the Rugby League Players Association that players will not take part in any media commitments on days when an NRL, NRLW or State of Origin match is played.

There’s no other way to put it really. The fact that eight months after the expiration of the Collective Bargaining Agreement we still have parties at a stalemate is absolutely diabolical and a reflection of everyone involved.

NEWCASTLE, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 04: Millie Boyle of the Knights is tackled during the round three NRLW match between Newcastle Knights and Parramatta Eels at McDonald Jones Stadium, on September 04, 2022, in Newcastle, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

(Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

In particular, the situation for the NRLW is infuriating. It was reported on February 14 that the NRL and RLPA has reached in principle agreement on key terms for the NRLW CBA.

So what on earth is the hold-up? It just does not make any sense.

The decision to boycott media is an interesting one too.

For the male players, it might not make too much of a difference given just how much coverage the men’s game gets.
But what about the women’s game that is in a growth phase right now?


The reality is, that there are many of us who love covering the women’s game, but by making it harder for the big media players to speak to players I can only see this hurting a competition that needs all the coverage it can get.