Nicho Hynes' confession about Brad Fittler after ugly State of Origin furore

The Cronulla Sharks halfback has addressed his relationship with the NSW State of Origin coach.

Nicho Hynes and Brad Fittler.
Nicho Hynes has addressed the rumours surrounding himself and Brad Fittler. Image: Getty

Nicho Hynes has dismissed suggestions he's fallen out with Brad Fittler in the wake of his brutal axing from the NSW State of Origin side. Hynes came into the 2023 State of Origin series as one of the form players in the NRL after winning the Dally M medal in 2022.

Many were calling for him to start at five-eighth at the expense of Jarome Luai, but Fittler stuck strong and instead picked Hynes on the bench. The Cronulla halfback was brought on at centre in the dying stages of Game I and missed a crucial tackle that led to a Queensland try.

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The Maroons went on to score again to take Game I, before winning the series in Game II. Many were critical of the way Fittler had used Hynes in Game I, and even more so when he was axed from the side completely for Game II despite halfback Nathan Cleary going down with a hamstring injury.

Fittler went with Mitchell Moses at No.7 instead, before bringing in Cody Walker at No.6 when Luai was axed for Game III. Reports have since emerged that Hynes' relationship with Fittler has soured as a result, but not according to the Cronulla superstar.

“It didn’t impact our relationship,” he said on Tuesday. “Freddy has copped it a fair bit, and that’s what an Origin or a big coach cops when they make selections. Regardless of what player they pick or didn’t pick, they’re going to cop it from every angle.

“That’s just the media doing their job, and if he felt like that it’s probably because they went harder at him than they went at me. I didn’t feel like they were driving a wedge between us.

“I still speak to Freddy via text, I saw him at one of the games here and I think Freddy is a great bloke who’s always making sure if I’m OK. When there were tough times at the start of the year, he was the first person to check in. I don’t begrudge him for not picking me.”

Nicho Hynes looks on during State of Origin I.
Nicho Hynes looks on from the bench during State of Origin I. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

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However Hynes did admit he was left broken and somewhat bewildered by his State of Origin snubbing. "To be honest, it was a really challenging time. I never lost faith in my ability (but my) confidence was probably a bit shot," Hynes said.

"I felt like I let a lot of people down, I let myself down. I said I was ready for (Origin) and I thought I was - and I still think I am. It's just one little moment in a big game can bring you back down to earth a little bit.

He added: "Did I deal with that (missing Origin) to the best of my ability? Probably not. It's the first time I've probably been challenged on field in my career.

"I barely lost a game at the (Melbourne) Storm. I came here and rode a high for 18 months there at Cronulla too. Every player gets brought back down to earth at some point, and all greats go through it. I'm not a great yet - and I'd love to be a great of this game one day - and they all had to go through it and I'm just lucky that I get to go through it now and learn from it and become a better player."

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Hynes has been the whipping boy as the Sharks have struggled for consistency over the last month. They've gone from top-four contenders to being in danger of missing out on the top eight altogether.

"People talk about the big-game experience and I haven't had to play too many big games," he said after gaining some much-needed confidence in Cronulla's 26-16 win over top-eight rivals South Sydney last weekend. "They (the critics) don't know whether I can be a big-game player yet. Last year's semi-final didn't show it because we lost.

"So I'm here to prove the doubters wrong and I think that was a big game on the weekend we provided. I just went to back to simple, basic things.

"We started well, we completed sets, we played the end to end footy we wanted to play and it worked. I think I went away from what works for our team in a couple of games previously so it's just so much better when you have a simpler, clearer game plan and you go out and execute it. That's the blueprint now for the rest of the season."

with AAP

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