Brad Fittler's blunt response after star's State of Origin axing

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Pictured right, Josh Addo-Carr celebrates scoring a try in State of Origin.
Josh Addo-Carr (R) was arguably the biggest shock axing from the NSW squad named for the June 8 State of Origin opener. Pic: Getty

NSW coach Brad Fittler says he's surprised by the backlash to his controversial decision to snub incumbent winger Josh Addo-Carr for the Blues' State of Origin game one squad.

On Sunday night, the Blues announced their squad for the June 8 opener, with Fittler making the brutal call to drop Addo-Carr and hand Daniel Tupou a State of Origin recall.

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The decision to recall the towering Tupou to the side appears designed to counter the likely aerial threat from the Maroons' tall outside backs.

However, Addo-Carr could justifiably feel a little hard done by, with the speedy winger a mainstay of the NSW Origin side for several years.

Addo-Carr has scored 10 tries in 12 games for NSW and sits second all-time for the state.

Despite a slow start with the bottom-placed Bulldogs, Addo-Carr has managed to score six tries in 11 appearances this season.

Ultimately though, Fittler needed an answer to Queensland's high-flying wingers Xavier Coates and Selwyn Cobbo, with Tupou's 196cm frame offering just that, as well as an obvious aerial target for teammate Nathan Cleary's kicks.

Nevertheless, Addo-Carr's omission has sparked backlash in the league world, with many fans and commentators perplexed by his axing - something Fittler does not understand.

"Well I'm surprised that people would be surprised," Fittler told 9News.

"He's (Tupou) pretty much been the best winger for a number of years.

"He's always on my radar.

"I've coached (Tupou) in the City team and State of Origin previously, and I've always loved him being part of my teams."

Elaborating on his decision on Sydney radio on Monday morning, the Blues coach said it wasn't so much Addo-Carr's lack of form, but Tupou's consistency that saw the Roosters winger get the nod.

“It was a tough one and I understand it’s caused a stir. It was more of a case of Tupou playing his way in and how safe he is,” Fittler told SEN breakfast with Vossy and Brandy on Monday morning.

“I feel like at the moment … I don’t think it’d be right on Foxx (Addo-Carr) or the team to go into Game I.

“We’ve communicated, and he’s committed to getting back in the team.

“My line to him was, he belongs here, that was a tough one.”

NSW Origin advisor Greg Alexander explained that Addo-Carr was "out of form" and that Tupou's height would help negate one of the Maroons' biggest weapons.

Seen here, Daniel Tupou in action for the Roosters against the Wests Tigers.
Daniel Tupou's form and added height ultimately saw him get the nod ahead of Josh Addo-Carr in the NSW Origin side. Pic: Getty

NSW officials explain Daniel Tupou preference

“I know you pick players and plenty of players have still been picked when they’re out of form or not in great form, but they’ve done the job before,” Alexander said.

“In mind with what Queensland will be picking, we just decided that we’d go with Daniel Tupou on the wing instead of Josh Addo-Carr.

“Daniel Tupou has been in great form as well, he’s also been there before, he did a great job in 2020, I thought he was one of our better players in 2020.

“He’s a great carry out of his own end, he’s tall, he’s a target for our kicks and he can also defend their kicks.

“While you’d like to pick and stick as the term goes, and stay with those that have done the job, I think there’s some positions, some specialist positions, where you need to take into account what the other team will throw at you.”

Nevertheless, Fox League commentator Andrew Voss was among many experts and fans that was left baffled by Addo-Carr's axing.

“I think Josh Addo-Carr must have got a new mobile phone and email address when he joined @NRL_Bulldogs,” Voss tweeted. “NSW selectors obviously couldn’t contact him.

“For the record. Josh Addo-Carr in Origin. 3 series wins out of 4. 10 tries in 12 games. Only 2 players in history have scored more tries for the Blues. Member of defending champs. I just find it really odd.”

News Corp league reporter Jamie Pandaram added: “Josh Addo-Carr misses the cut. Unbelievable for a player who has done the job in the blue jersey and is now playing for a rubbish club team. Hasn’t lost pace or the ability to make a game-winning run from his own half.”

EXPECTED NSW TEAM FOR STATE OF ORIGIN OPENER*:

James Tedesco (capt), Brian To'o, Stephen Crichton, Kotoni Staggs, Daniel Tupou, Jarome Luai, Nathan Cleary, Junior Paulo, Damien Cook, Payne Haas, Tariq Sims, Cameron Murray Isaah Yeo.

Bench: Nicho Hynes, Reagan Campbell-Gillard, Ryan Matterson, Tyson Frizell.

Reserves: Jack Wighton, Apisai Koroisau, Joseph Suaalii, Liam Martin, Jacob Saifiti.

* All players named in 22-man squad.

with AAP

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