Brad Fittler's quip for Latrell Mitchell amid Origin selection squeeze

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·Sports Reporter
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Brad Fittler will assess Latrell Mitchell's NRL return this weekend before making any moves on a State of Origin recall, despite the Rabbitohs star's confidence. Pictures: Getty Images
Brad Fittler will assess Latrell Mitchell's NRL return this weekend before making any moves on a State of Origin recall, despite the Rabbitohs star's confidence. Pictures: Getty Images

Brad Fittler is an admirer of Latrell Mitchell's confidence, but the Blues coach will nevertheless wait to see how the State of Origin hopeful performs in his NRL comeback before considering a recall.

The Blues coach was amused at a comment Mitchell had left on Instagram, suggesting Matt Burton slide up a position despite his electric Origin debut in Perth.

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“Burton can have the No.4," Mitchell wrote, giving a clear indication his preference to start in his usual number three jersey.

Fittler responded with a chuckle when Mitchell's comment was brought to his attention, saying his preference would be to see how he performs in his return from a hamstring injury suffered back in April first.

The could be a selection crunch for the Blues ahead of the deciding Origin III, with Fittler facing a dilemma in order to fit a potentially returning Mitchell, as well as Jack Wighton, back into the side after Burton's impressive debut in Perth last weekend.

Despite this, the Blues coach said he wasn't worried about tough decisions on the selection table.

“Is Trell a selector now?” Fittler quipped.

“He’s a very talented bloke, Latrell. I look forward to watching him this week.”

NSW ran in five tries in the second half of Game II, while Queensland were unable to score a single point after the break.

The result levelled the series at 1-1, with the decider to be played at Suncorp Stadium on July 13.

Queensland have enjoyed a remarkable success rate when the series has gone to a decider, winning eight of the past nine in such a scenario.

The Maroons' home venue has historically been a graveyard for the Blues.

But NSW produced a stunning 26-0 win there last year on the way to wrapping up the series 2-1.

Blues eager to defy odds in State of Origin decider

Queensland are hurting following their limp performance in Perth, and NSW are bracing for a backlash in the Suncorp Stadium decider, captain James Tedesco said

"We know it's going to be a different beast going up there," Tedesco said.

"(It will be a) packed Suncorp, everyone against us. But it's a challenge we'll look forward to.

"I think we'll take a lot of confidence out of this game. We'll identify some stuff we can get better at."

NSW coach Brad Fittler moved quickly to snuff out any hint of complacency following the big win in Perth.

The Blues haven't lost the first game in Sydney and gone on to win the series since 1994.

"It's 1-1. As good as that was (in Perth), it's 1-1. Simple as that," Fittler said.

"We're playing at Suncorp, and we've only won once there in (the past) four years."

MNathan Cleary has warned the Blues their work is only half done after their win in State of Origin II. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)
MNathan Cleary has warned the Blues their work is only half done after their win in State of Origin II. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

Blues game-breaker Nathan Cleary has warned teammates the job is only half done after the halfback's heroics helped NSW level the series.

Relieved of the pressure of being solely responsible for NSW's kicking game, Cleary delivered the most dominant performance of his Origin career in Sunday night's 44-12 rout in Perth.

The victory means NSW will head to Suncorp Stadium aiming to win a decider in Queensland - something they have only done in 1994 and 2005.

Cleary has only played in one decider - in 2020 when the Blues lost - and the 24-year-old will be the man tasked with spearheading NSW's bid to retain the shield.

"It's going to be tough," he said. "We know that Queensland are going to be much better and Suncorp is probably the toughest place to go and get a win.

"As much as we have to enjoy tonight, we can't fall in love with ourselves.

"We have to be better. If we don't win game three, then tonight's game means nothing."

With AAP

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