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State of Origin broadcaster Channel Nine's decision to interview NSW coach Brad Fittler in the middle of the Game One defeat to Queensland has been slammed by viewers.
Fittler's Blues were overrun by the Maroons in Sydney on Wednesday night, going down 16-10 despite taking a first half lead against the Maroons.
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The loss means the Blues must overcome a near 30-year hoodoo to retain the State of Origin shield, with only one side this century - Queensland in 2017 - having lost the first game with home-ground advantage, before going on to claim the series.
Fittler was left bristling during the second half when he interviewed on Nine at a crucial juncture in the match.
'Freddy' and his Maroons counterpart Billy Slater are both employed by the broadcaster and appeared for interviews at various stages throughout the match.
However, one such interview left Fittler and viewers bristling when the Blues coach was asked for his thoughts on the game while his side was eight points down in the second half.
“Brad’s with us again, an eight-point deficit for you Brad, and some injury worries too; Crichton on the field,” Nine commentator Matthew Thompson started.
“Yeah, Kotoni had a bit of a shoulder problem, so he’s [Crichton] playing right centre,” Fittler answered, clearly locked into the game.
Thompson then asked: “Are you concerned about the scoreline at this stage, Brad? How are you feeling about the score?”
The NSW coach's abrupt answer showed he was clearly in no mood to answer such an obvious question.
“We’re not winning, mate. We just need to generate some speed (in the ruck) and get the ball down the other end,” Fittler fired back.
Noting the coach's irritation, Thompson abruptly cut the cringeworthy interview short.
"We will leave it there, Brad. It is a tense time in the game. Thank you,” Thompson said.
Viewers on social media shared Fittler's apparent disdain for the interview.
if it gave real insight, then maybe...
they literally asked Freddy if the scoreboard worried him, while they were behind.
that's asinine and ridiculous, to say the least.
NBA has the quick coach interviews in between quarters.
much better way to do it, rather than in-game.
— Paceman (@thecouchcoach05) June 8, 2022
— Airwick (@ericgrothejr) June 8, 2022
Coach interviews during the game are completely useless. Freddy should have just told him to piss off #StateofOrigin
— John Davidson (@johnnyddavidson) June 8, 2022
😂 Fittler wasn't having a bar of that interview
— Ben Robinson (@captainfred09) June 8, 2022
Asking Fittler if he’s concerned about the score?! They’re 8 points down, of course he is 🤦🏼♂️
— Josh (@joshtaylor_26) June 8, 2022
After the match, Fittler took a not-so-subtle swipe at referee Ashley Klein's performance in the Origin series opener.
Cameron Munster was at his brilliant best in the Maroons' shock six-point win in Sydney, in what was a remarkable debut for rookie coach Billy Slater.
Brad Fittler not happy with Origin officials
However, Blues counterpart Fittler was less than impressed when asked in his post-match press conference where things went wrong.
"They won the ruck. They did a really good job there," Fittler said.
"They held on and (referee) Ashley (Klein) didn't want to give penalties away.
"We got a penalty with 17 minutes to go, it was the first penalty.
"We should have done a better job. We should have held them down longer - simple."
— NRL on Nine (@NRLonNine) June 8, 2022
NSW were awarded four set restarts for ruck infringements, but struggled to slow down a Queensland attack that played direct with Munster and Daly Cherry-Evans on the front foot.
Queensland's domination of the ruck came with the return of the likes of Slater and Cameron Smith in the Maroons camp, with the play-the-ball an area they dominated during their decade of success.
Fittler also said he would await a response from the NRL on a number of other crucial calls.
The Blues believed a forward-pass call that denied Tedesco a try that would have put the hosts 8-0 up was line ball, and claimed Kalyn Ponga's ball in the lead up to Dane Gagai's try moments later was also marginal.
Tedesco also questioned whether Cherry-Evans' second-half try had come after Junior Paulo had been illegally held back in a scrum.
"I thought Junior Paulo's one, he was held in the scrum," Fittler said.
"It will be interesting to speak to Jared and his view on the ball going forward and Junior being held.
"But at the end of the day I don't know if it made a difference."
Queensland's win in the series opener has left NSW needing to win two on the road to retain the Origin shield, ahead of games in Perth and Brisbane.
Only three NSW sides in Origin history have come back to win the series after dropping the first game - in 1994, 2005 and 2019.
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