On the field, Brad Fittler was a vital cog in the New South Wales era of Origin greatness.
Now, he’s been charged with sparking a revival.
The Blues’ most-capped player is heading to the coaches’ box after NSW Rugby League Chairman George Peponis rubber-stamped what had been widely speculated this week.
“The board was unanimous in the view that Brad Fittler should be appointed in the position of State of Origin Blues coach,” Peponis said.
“His qualifications for the role are impeccable and his standing in the game is pre-eminent.
“We are confident we have chosen the right person and that we are headed into a successful era for the NSW Origin Blues.”
Fittler said the being appointed was the pinnacle of his rugby league career.
“Given the job is without doubt the greatest honour that I have had thus far in my rugby league life.”
“It’s going to take a lot of work and (we need to) build on a lot of relationships to see if we can beat this Queensland team ultimately.”
He has already cast his eye across Origin team hopefuls.
Fittler coached Lebanon to the quarter-finals of the Rugby League World Cup and said Mitchell Moses has put his hand-up for selection after his performance for Lebanon.
“You know a big part of what Lebanon did over the World Cup came down to him.
“He came up with some big moments.
“So he was outstanding and what it does is it puts pressure on the current halves and the halves that are in contention,” he said.
I’ve learnt from my mistakes as an NRL coach: Fittler
Fittler was coach at the Sydney Roosters in the National Rugby League from 2007 to 2009 and wasn’t re-hired the following year.
“I’ve got ideas about what went wrong at the Roosters.
“So the fact is we played in two semi-finals the first year and played under some pretty big environments.
“And I learnt a lot from those times. I most probably learned more from the year we lost more than I ever have in my life.”
Fittler made his Origin debut in 1990. By the time he played his final match against Queensland some 14 seasons later, NSW had won 10 series.
However, his retirement has coincided with the Blues’ Origin ice age, in which they have succumbed to the Maroons in 11 of the past 12 years.
Last month, Fittler revealed his blueprint to build an Origin dynasty around NSW’s young guns.
He has been signed to coach the team for the next two years.
It is understood the NSWRL also considered John Cartwright, David Furner and Michael Maguire for the role.
Fittler replaces Laurie Daley, who was sacked three months ago after a third straight Origin series defeat.
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