Andrew Johns has lashed out over the widespread criticism and backlash Brad Fittler received for losing back-to-back State of Origin series, saying it contributed to his decision to stand down as NSW coach. Fittler announced on Thursday that he was withdrawing himself from contention to stay on as the Blues coach after six years in charge.
Fittler reportedly wanted a two-year extension, but the NSWRL board would only offer a one-year deal and a significant pay cut. Discussing the situation on Friday, Johns lashed out at those who had criticised Fittler and questioned his coaching.
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Johns, who has worked as an assistant coach with Fittler, said the Queensland media would never treat the Maroons coach the same way. "The pile-on on Freddy last year was unwarranted," Johns said on the 'Immortal Behaviour' podcast.
"Not only Freddy, on (Blues advisor) Greg Alexander too. One thing about Brandy (Alexander) (is) he fronted up every time and answered the questions, even though you could see he was seriously pissed off. I thought last year the pile-on was extreme, and I thought it was personal. It happens every year. The Queensland media don't pile on, but we eat our own down here. I thought that was disappointing."
Johns said he fully expected Fittler to stay in the role next season, describing it as a "mistake" that the board didn't accommodate his requests. Fittler enjoyed immediate success in the role and won his first two series in 2018 and 2019. However his record will finish at 3-3 after losing three of the last four series.
Speaking after Queensland's series victory this year, Fittler also addressed the immense scrutiny and criticism he'd received and said it had affected his family for the first time. "I've got my methods and strategies [to deal with criticism] in place for this job. I've worked it out, but for the first time, all this talk has affected my partner and my kids," he told the Sydney Morning Herald.
He also admitted: "The last couple of series have been pretty gruelling and I think me being there adds pressure to the team as well. I also need to take that into consideration. There are some decent decisions that need to be made. At the end of the day it is all about who is the best person for the job and they then have to go and find that person."
Laurie Daley not interested in NSW coaching job
Ricky Stuart and Craig Bellamy have been touted as potential candidates to take over as NSW coach next season, with calls for the board to move away from the idea that the Origin coach can't be a full-time NRL coach. One man who won't be throwing his hat in the ring is former Blues coach Laurie Daley.
Daley was in charge from 2013 to 2017 and only won one series out of five. But the Canberra legend famously ended 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 said it would be a "risk" to employ a full-time NRL coach in the Origin role. "(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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