Brad Fittler has offered some insight into how he wants his NSW team to play, alluding to how quick play-the-balls and passing exchanges between forwards will be integral to their success.
The Blues enter into the contest boasting a solid advantage. The core of their team has not only played multiple State of Origin campaigns together, but have also spent years building combinations in club land.
“Because we’ve got so many Penrith players, we’re going to play something that they’re fairly comfortable with,” Fittler told NRL 360 on Monday night.
“They have their trick shots and they do certain things, but we’ve also got a lot of speed with Damien Cook out of dummy half. Then there’s James Tedesco – how he can have input into our team.”
The Blues’ coach was quick to point out the differences he wanted to incorporate into the NSW game plan, with the alterations in key spine players creating a unique dynamic.
“It won’t be entirely the shapes and styles that Penrith play, because we’ll be making sure that we give Damien Cook some room to run and also Teddy gets a chance to explore,” he said.
“And [we want] Junior Paulo and Ryan Matterson also to do what they’ve been doing.”
With just over a week to prepare for the Origin series opener, Fittler and his coaching staff will conduct meetings to focus in on exactly what they want to see on June 8th.
“We’re just sitting down at the moment with the players. Mary [Paul McGregor] and I have had a look at what we think is going to work, so we’ll sit down with the players and just make sure they’re comfortable,” Fittler said.
Amongst the 22-man squad selected, there are a number of new faces. The likes of Kotoni Staggs, Stephen Crichton and Matterson all look set to make their debuts for NSW, while Joseph Suaalii, Nicho Hynes and Jacob Saifiti are in the extended squad.
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“The big thing [for debutants] is we tell them a bit about the history of what’s going on and we talk about what we’re about, what we expect.
“The core of this group has been around for quite a while, so they have their own expectations of everyone who comes into camp as well,” Fittler added.
When he was quizzed on what he expected Billy Slater’s first Maroons team to look like, Fittler stressed the importance of NSW focusing on their own side, instead of worrying about the opposition.
“I’m not sure what they’ll do,” he said.
“Anyone from the 22 can still end up in the team at the moment, so we’ll worry about their team an hour out from the game.
“We’ll actually know more when it’s 24 hours out – where they have to name the 17 and 18th man. But I’m under no illusions that they’re going to be better than they have been, or they were last year.
“He’s a very thorough bloke, Billy. He’ll know his opposition and know what his own team can do.
“And with the people and support around him – I think they’ll be up for it. But that’s what it’s all about.”