Blues coach Brad Fittler held a secret meeting with referee Jared Maxwell before the opening of the State of Origin series.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Fittler came armed with a video highlighting the illegal plays of Maroons players during last year’s Origin series and while playing for his NRL clubs.
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He noted the forward passes outside the simulated half of Maroons hooker Harry Grant, the offside plays of Cameron Munster and the kick pressure on midfielder Nathan Cleary.
Fittler’s fear was that the referees could have a big influence on the outcome and they took the unusual step of making the approach ahead of the series.
He didn’t stop here. Fittler then looked for Maxwell after the first game, outraged by referee Ashley Klein’s performance.
Among his fouls was a cut ball from Kalyn Ponga that led to Dane Gagai’s try and the Blues Junior Paulo team remained in the fray while Daly Cherry-Evans scored from close range.
The Blues were less than impressed with Ashley Klein in the first game. Source: Getty Images
He also wanted to address the speed of the ruck, which has since become a key point of conversation leading to the second game in Perth.
“(Queensland) has stuck and they held on,” Fittler said earlier this month.
“They didn’t want to give a penalty, I think 17 minutes from the end we had a penalty. “They did a great job, they worked hard there and they definitely won the ruck.”
It was a feeling echoed by Blues assistant Greg Alexander on Monday night.
“We need to focus more on the ruck and realize it’s not a club game,” he told NRL360.
“It’s Origen and the penalties want to be minimal. You have to push the limit. You don’t want to play too well. I thought we were too kind to things.
“It looked like we didn’t want to offend anyone. We jumped well and clean and lost the ruck and learned a lesson from that. I’m sure we’ll be better in this area.”
EXPLANATION OF FITTLER DISCONNECTING RESPONSE TO MASS CHANGES
Blues coach Brad Fittler revealed he was happy with his selections for the start of the series, but still made seven amazing changes to his team after a 16-10 loss in the first game.
Now, ‘Freddy’ has admitted that NSW coaches need to re-evaluate, hoping to match the series before heading to the Queensland field in Game III.
Matt Burton, Apisai Koroisau, Angus Crichton, Siosifa Talakai and Jake Trbojevic are set to enter the 17th, while Reagan Campbell-Gillard, Ryan Matterson and Tariq Sims were eliminated with Jack Wighton ruled out due to the Covid-19.
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“I was confident with the first team, but I have to pick a team with which we can go out there and win and that’s it,” Fittler said.
“When you are overwhelmed, you have to re – evaluate.
“At the moment we don’t have a safety net, we entered the first game thinking in a certain way about how the game would go and what we could do, but it didn’t happen.
“So going to Perth with a team I think we can win with.”
Fittler also explained that he believed Jack Wighton was the best of the Blues at the opening of the series, and revealed that Stephen Crichton would take his place on the starting field.
“I thought he was our best player, I thought he was very strong, I’m very disappointed in him,” Fittler said.
“I was talking to him and there was almost no movement around him to be able to play, but he has been quite mischievous, so the first two or three days he was very ill and was immediately ruled out.”
The inclusion of Siosifa Talakai is a great reward for her form of big storm in the Sharks centers, but her selling point is her versatility according to the Blues coach.
The 25-year-old can be used in the center and has played on the sidelines and centers for Craig Fitzgibbon this year.
“Talakai, well, gives us versatility, I think he started the season in the middle, he played on the sidelines and then he also played center all year and did a great job,” Fittler said.
Walsh SMOKE to Panthers coach | 00:31
“He was unlucky not to play the first game and he’s someone we’ve been watching, it’s been very exciting to see his season, so I look forward to seeing him play.”
Meanwhile, experts have criticized the omission of Jake Trbojevic in the Origin Arena after Fittler announced his team for the opening of the series.
After some passionate performances in recent weeks for the Sea Eagles, the Trbojevic surnames are back in the state vs. state showcase, while
“Jake Trbojevic, just like the game was in the first game, we really need someone who has a defensive mind,” Fittler said.
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