NSW fans turn on Brad Fittler over 'unforgivable' State of Origin act

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·Sports Reporter
·5-min read
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Nathan Cleary and Brad Fittler stand side by side after NSW's loss to Queensland in the State of Origin decider.
Brad Fittler's decision to overlook Jack Wighton for State of Origin III has been seized upon by fans after the Blues lost the series decider. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

The knives are out among NSW fans after the Blues were toppled by Queensland in the State of Origin decider, with coach Brad Fittler's selections under the spotlight.

Blues fans were disappointed after Queensland came back from a 10-12 disadvantage at half-time to earn a powerhouse 22-12 victory, seizing on a series of NSW mistakes.

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On the back foot for much of the second half after having the upper hand in the first, the Blues simply weren't able to work their way back after being pummelled in defence.

The Blues slowly started running out of counters, leaving some fans to question the wisdom of selecting Stephen Crichton and Siosifa Talakai ahead of Canberra Raiders star Jack Wighton.

Wighton was arguably NSW's best player in Game I, but a positive Covid-19 test held him out of Game II.

He was fit to play the decider, but Fittler opted to start Crichton in the centres and bring Talakai off the bench - leaving Wighton as 18th man.

With the Blues having lacked some playmaking zest when the pressure was truly on during the second half, many fans took to Twitter questioning Fittler's selections.

It was the second time in the space of three years that Brad Fittler's side have had the chance to wrap up the series, only for Queensland to pip them and leave them soul searching.

Fittler's team had the chance to enter their names into the discussion of being one of the great NSW Origin teams.

Victory would have meant the Blues had a 4-1 record during Fittler's five series in charge since 2018.

But their inability to knock over a stubborn Maroons side playing with a two-man bench for 75 minutes will shape as a big chance gone begging.

Queensland were galvanised by a series of spot fires - most notably the Matt Burton-Dane Gagai brawl which led to both players being fined by the NRL on Thursday morning.

NSW Blues players huddle together after Queensland scored a try in State of Origin III.
NSW were absolutely gutted after Queensland gutted out a victory in the State of Origin decider. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Blues kicking themselves after missed chance in Origin decider

The Maroons hounded NSW in defence but the Blues were also the victims of their own doing and made basic errors.

Daniel Tupou knocked on just before half-time with Queensland scoring on the next set through Kurt Capewell.

"It was a simple error. That hurt," Fittler said.

"Queensland were definitely the better team."

Jarome Luai hurled a ball into touch and Talakai made two costly errors late in the game which ensured the Blues were on the back foot chasing the game.

"I've been doing this a long time and you win and lose - it's just disappointing," Fittler said.

"The guys have worked so hard and sacrificed in and amongst club footy. Normally that's what makes people strive harder, and we've got to be better."

Fittler was also fuming about Burton being sin-binned for his punch-on with Gagai, which started after the former collided with Kalyn Ponga as he got up from the turf.

Gagai took exception to this and went at Burton, with Tino Fa'asuamaleaui holding Burton back as Gagai laid into him, putting him into a headlock.

Referee Ashely Klein showed no tolerance for the violence and sent the pair to the sin bin, but spared Fa'asuamaleaui.

The incident appeared to galvanise the hosts, who kicked on from 12-10 down to win 22-12.

"He didn't initiate it, he's not going to fight anyone," Fittler said of Burton.

"He got belted, got the penalty, got in a headlock and we walk out with one player down each.

"Tad ridiculous, but it is what it is."

Blues captain James Tedesco wondered why Fa'asuamaleaui wasn't sin-binned, before Fittler shut down the topic.

With AAP

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