Brad Fittler has confirmed reports the NSW Rugby League board is looking to do away with the requirement that the State of Origin coach can't be a full-time NRL coach. Fittler was widely expected to re-sign for another year as the NSW coach, but announced on Thursday that was withdrawing himself from contention.
According to reports, Fittler wanted a two-year extension to remain in the role, but the board would only offer him a one-year deal. Speaking on Sports Sunday on Channel 9, the former coach revealed the job would be switched from a full-time contract to a five-month one from next season.
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It would have meant Fittler had to take a significant pay cut to remain in the job in 2024. The 51-year-old said the board is moving away from the notion that the State of Origin coach can't be employed full-time by an NRL club.
Over the last decade, the State of Origin coach has been someone who isn't an NRL coach, with the likes of Fittler and Queensland mentor Billy Slater working independently. The thinking is that NRL coaches don't have the time to focus fully on both jobs.
But there are calls for NSW to employ the best coach for the job, regardless of whether they hold an NRL role or not. Some of the names being thrown around are Craig Bellamy, Ricky Stuart and Ivan Cleary, who are with the Storm, Raiders and Panthers respectively.
Another person whose name has been thrown into the ring is Paul Gallen, who captained the Blues during Queensland's dominance throughout the 2010s. Gallen skippered NSW to their drought-breaking victory in 2014, but revealed on Saturday that he has no interest in taking the coaching job.
"I'd be happy to join them and help out, but being the head coach no," Gallen said on 2GB radio. "I'd be happy to be involved (as an assistant), whoever does get the job."
Gallen said he was "surprised" by Fittler's decision to quit. "He was going to bring some of the greats back but he's decided to quit, which is his call," Gallen said.
"I can understand it, he's a guy who's done everything in the game. For what he's done and where he is in life, he probably doesn't need the pressure and all the scrutiny on top of him."
Laurie Daley warns of 'risk' of employing full-time NRL coach
Another person who has no desire to take the job is Laurie Daley. The Canberra legend was in charge of the Blues from 2013 to 2017 and only won one series out of five. But Daley famously helped end Queensland's run of eight-consecutive series victories in 2014.
"I'm always happy to help if asked, always happy to help," he told the Big Sports Breakfast on Friday. "But (the head coach role) is for someone else."
Daley also warned against employing a current NRL coach. "(A club coach) can do it, but you put yourself at risk," he said.
"If you go into an Origin series and your club team isn't travelling well, and for that period when you're away your team struggles, it can put a lot of pressure on the coach. Throw into the mix (that) you might lose State of Origin, and you know the impact it has on coaches - you could be copping from NSW and your club.
"It's a big risk. That would be the worry I have - paying a coach a $1 million a year and they will be spending a quarter of the season, six weeks, out of your system in State of Origin."
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