Greg Alexander blows up on TV over 'rude' Bradman Best Origin question

The league great took exception to comments about the Newcastle centre's shock Origin selection.

NSW Blues advisor Greg Alexander (R) did not take kindly to journalist Brent Read's Origin questions on NRL 360. Pic: Fox League
NSW Blues advisor Greg Alexander (R) did not take kindly to journalist Brent Read's Origin questions on NRL 360. Pic: Fox League

It's fair to say Brad Fittler's NSW team announcement for State of Origin Game III raised a few eyebrows. The Blues coach rang in a whopping seven changes to the side that lost 32-6 to Queensland in Game II, sparking plenty of backlash across the league world - especially the shock selection of Bradman Best.

One man who was having none of it on Monday night was Fittler's NSW advisor Greg Alexander, who took particular exception to a question around Newcastle's Best. The Knights centre was arguably the most left-field of Fittler's selection picks, and came off the back of Best's stunning hat-trick in the 66-0 mauling of the struggling Canterbury Bulldogs on Sunday.

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'Brandy' agreed to an interview on NRL 360 on Monday night, which was prickly at best. When asked by league journalist and regular panelist Brent Read how Best had come into NSW calculations, the Blues advisor fired up.

Read suggested other centres such as Penrith’s Izack Tago or Parramatta's Will Penisini had been in better form than Best this season. The same could be said about Brisbane's Kotoni Staggs, while Canterbury's Matt Burton excelled in the centres for NSW in last year's series. Read's implication that Best had been given the nod after one exceptional game against the Bulldogs, did no go down well with Alexander.

“That is rude to Bradman Best,“ he fired back at Read. “Do you think Bradman Best, who was a star as an 18-year-old coming through the pathways, do you think what he wanted to do all his footballing life was play Origin?

"And now you’re talking about him representing NSW on the back of one game. That’s being disrespectful to Bradman Best. It is being disrespectful to Bradman Best.”

Seen here, Newcastle's Bradman Best.
Newcastle's Bradman Best is set to make his Origin debut in Game III after being picked in Brad Fittler's NSW Blues side. Pic: Getty

Read looked clearly irked by Alexander's fiery response, before hitting back to defend his point. “I’m not being rude at all, Bradman Best is a good player," Read conceded. "But I’m saying leading into that game yesterday, every story you read, everything you saw was Matt Burton was going to be the centre. I don’t think Bradman’s name was even mentioned.”

Alexander replied: “Bradman’s name has been talked about for some time. Izack Tago was discussed. Will Penisini wasn’t. Izack Tago’s been in great form for Penrith at left centre, he was an option. Matt Burton was an option. But we’ve gone with Bradman Best. Don’t disrespect him by saying it was on the back of one game.”

NSW Blues make seven changes for Game III

The incident was by far the tetchiest part of the Alexander interview, in which he was also quizzed about the raft of changes for the Blues and the snubbing of reigning Dally M Medallist, Nicho Hynes. South Sydney five-eighth Cody Walker instead replaced Jarome Luai for Brad Fittler's Game III side, while Clint Gutherson, Reagan Campbell-Gillard, Jake Trbojevic and Jacob Saifiti have all been recalled. Best and Rabbitohs star Keaon Koloamatangi are set to make their Blues debuts in Sydney.

Read pointed out to Alexander that it was the seventh time Fittler had made “seven or more changes” for an Origin game and asked how that reflected in comparison to Queensland's famed "pick and stick" Origin selection history. “There’s a whole lot of things that come into picking a side,” Alexander said.

“It’s form, it’s players that have been there before. Even if players haven’t been playing their best, they deserve another chance. There’s a lot of things that come into the selection process it’s not just picking and sticking.

“We’ve lost two games, we needed to make change. We’ve done that in the past so you need to make change. You can’t stick with what you’ve got if you weren’t happy with how things were going and that’s what we’ve done.”

Brandy was also at a loss to explain Hynes' snubbing after The Daily Telegraph's Phil Rothfield pointed to the fact he was only given 10 minutes out of position in Game I and leads a Cronulla side with the best attack in the NRL. “Rep footy’s tough and we decided to go another way," was about the extent of Alexander's response to the Hynes omission.

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