Cameron Smith's disbelief over 'mad' Brad Fittler decision

·Sports Reporter
·3-min read
Cameron Smith (pictured left) during state of Origin and Nathan Cleary (pictured right) during a game.
Cameron Smith (pictured left) said NSW coach Brad Fittler would be 'mad' if he didn't capitalise on building a team around the Penrith Panthersa and Nathan Cleary's form (pictured right). (Getty Images)

NRL legend Cameron Smith said NSW Blues coach Brad Fittler would be 'mad' to not cash in on Penrith's success at club level for State of Origin this year.

Jarome Luai and Nathan Cleary made an irresistible case to combine for NSW in State of Origin Game 1 after leading Penrith to a 56-12 annihilation of South Sydney on the weekend.

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Billed as a NSW Origin trial between Luai and incumbent Cody Walker, Blues coach Fittler would have been a hard man to not label Luai the winner.

His combination with Blues half Cleary continues to be the most dominant in the competition, as Penrith became just the fifth side in history to start the season with 11 straight wins.

This has prompted retired Storm legend Smith to claim it will be hard for Fittler to look past a host of Panthers players.

“They (Penrith) haven’t looked like losing a game at the moment,” Smith said on SEN Radio.

“When you look at how their key players are playing, Nathan Cleary, Jarome Luai and Api Koroisau is back playing number nine.

“They’re playing a style of footy that looks really hard to beat, and they’re doing it with a lot of fun and they’re enjoying it."

Jarome Luai (pictured) offloads the ball during the round eight NRL match between the Penrith Panthers and the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles at Carrington Park on May 01, 2021, in Bathurst, Australia.
Jarome Luai (pictured) offloads the ball during the round eight NRL match between the Penrith Panthers and the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles at Carrington Park on May 01, 2021, in Bathurst, Australia. (Photo by Matt Blyth/Getty Images)

Smith even gave Fittler a hint on his thoughts on the NSW team.

“For mine, I think Brad Fittler and the New South Wales selectors – and this is coming from a Queenslander too – they’d be mad not to go with several of the Penrith players for their team," he added.

While Smith expects Fittler to stick with the incumbent No.9, Damien Cook, he also raised the idea of using Penrith hooker Koroisau to sure up the spine.

“If you pick those two halves (Cleary and Luai) together and you throw Api Koroisau in there – which I don’t think will happen in game one because I think he’ll stick with Damien Cook – then you probably get the other players to adjust to the style of play the Penrith players are playing,” Smith added.

Cleary praises Luai's 2021 season

Luai's brillaint ball-playing and combination with Cleary prompted Penrith coach Ivan Cleary to praise the No.6.

"There were a lot of doubters there last year and people thought Matt Burton should be ahead of him," Cleary said.

"Jarome brings more than just his own individual flair and what he can do.

"He has a lot of other qualities, he helps players around him and brings a lot more to our team as well."

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