Brad Fittler pulls major move in Blues bid to avoid 13-year Origin first

Bradman Best and Cody Walker's selections have left NSW Blues fans somewhat puzzled by Brad Fittler's latest move.

Bradman Best, Brad Fittler and Cody Walker.
Bradman Best and Cody Walker headline some surprise additions to Brad Fittler's Blues squad for State of Origin III. Pictures: Getty Images

NSW coach Brad Fittler has left fans puzzled by a variety of changes to the Blues squad ahead of the State of Origin finale. Under pressure to retain his job as coach, Fittler has made several changes in a bid to avoid the side's first series sweep in 13 years.

The likes of Jarome Luai and Junior Paolo headline a raft of changes, some enforced by injury, many not so following the game two defeat. Payne Haas and Tom Trbojevic will miss through injury, while Tyson Frizell, Hudson Young and Stefano Utoikamanu have also been dropped.

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In their place will be Cody Walker, who returns to the Blues for his first game since 2020, picked ahead of Cronulla's Nicho Hynes. Also returning for the first time since 2020 is Clint Gutherson, while Bradman Best will start in the centres in place of Trbojevic.

While plenty were keen to see what Best could offer, many were somewhat taken aback that he was picked ahead of Matt Burton. The 21-year-old scored a hat-trick for Newcastle as they thumped the Bulldogs last weekend.

Luai is perhaps the most notable exclusion, having copped heavy criticism for his antics late in the game two loss in Queensland. He had also incurred the wrath of Maroons fans earlier in the game, after standing over Daly Cherry-Evans following a tackle.

The announcement of the Blues squad on social media prompted a mixed reaction from NSW supporters, with many calling for an overhaul of the side in anticipation of the 2024 series.


1. James Tedesco (c) (Sydney Roosters), 2. Brian To’o (Penrith Panthers), 3. Stephen Crichton (Penrith Panthers), 4. Bradman Best (Newcastle Knights), 5. Josh Addo-Carr (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs), 6. Cody Walker (South Sydney Rabbitohs), 7. Mitchell Moses (Parramatta Eels), 8. Jake Trbojevic (Manly Warringah Sea Eagles), 9. Damien Cook (South Sydney Rabbitohs), 10. Reagan Campbell-Gillard (Parramatta Eels), 11. Liam Martin (Penrith Panthers), 12. Keaon Koloamatangi (South Sydney Rabbitohs), 13. Cameron Murray (South Sydney Rabbitohs),

14. Isaah Yeo (Penrith Panthers), 15. Jacob Saifiti (Newcastle Knights), 16. Reece Robson (North Queensland Cowboys), 17. Clint Gutherson (Parramatta Eels)

18. Scott Drinkwater (North Queensland Cowboys), 19. Spencer Leniu (Penrith Panthers)


1. AJ Brimson (Gold Coast Titans), 2. Xavier Coates (Melbourne Storm), 3. Valentine Holmes (North Queensland Cowboys), 4. Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow (The Dolphins), 5. Murray Taulagi (North Queensland Cowboys), 6. Cameron Munster (Melbourne Storm), 7. Daly Cherry-Evans (Manly Sea Eagles), 8. Reuben Cotter (North Queensland Cowboys), 9. Harry Grant (Melbourne Storm), 10. Tino Fa’asuamaleaui (Gold Coast Titans), 11. David Fifita (Gold Coast Titans), 12. Jeremiah Nanai (North Queensland Cowboys), 13. Patrick Carrigan (Brisbane Broncos)

14. Ben Hunt (St George Illawarra Dragons), 15. Lindsay Collins (Sydney Roosters), 16. Moeaki Fotuaika (Gold Coast Titans), 17. Corey Horsburgh (Canberra Raiders)

18. Tom Dearden (North Queensland Cowboys), 19. J’maine Hopgood (Parramatta Eels)

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