‘Our best is better than Queensland’s’: Fittler’s pre-Origin words of wisdom
A confident NSW Blues coach Brad Fittler did not need to splash $5500 on any coach whisperer to come up with his motivational quote on the eve of Origin I: "I think our best is better than Queensland's.''
"I think we're better than we were last year,'' Fittler added. "I think we're more confident in each other. And given there's a lot of changes to their team, I don't know if they can match us.''
As his Maroons counterpart Kevin Walters answered questions about coach whisperer Bradley Charles Stubbs – and at one point was asked if he had''lost the plot'' because of some of his quirky antics in the build-up to Wednesday night's Origin opener – Fittler was given some free advice on why his Blues would again reign supreme.
Not even a sex-tape scandal, which could now become a police matter, according to NSWRL officials, was going to dent Fittler's confidence in becoming the first Blues team since 2005 to win successive series.
"Damien Cook has played with Nathan Cleary, 'Teddy' [James Tedesco] has played with those two, Cam Murray has the combination with Souths. I can only get a guide off training and their training has been better than what it was last year,'' Fittler said.
"I've got to be a bit of a devil's advocate sometimes. I see a lot of potential in their [Queensland] team. Obviously their fullback [Kalyn Ponga] and five-eighth [Cam Munster] are most probably the best two attacking players in the game.
"To just overlook that would be a huge error. They've got a lot of really good players. I just feel we're fit, they know each other, they got on really well and they've trained hard.
"I just think we're going to be better than what we were last year, so they're going to have to go a long way to beat us. I don't know if they can go that far.''
Fittler said he had not paid much attention to the Walters sideshow, which has included the banning of words like "NSW" or "Blues", and over-the-top enthusiasm about Queensland's chances.
He said he had met Stubbs once at the Sydney Roosters, but it was only to say "hello", and the only time he had read the headlines in the past week was Saturday "when doing the crossword in the papers".
Fittler said he was just as excited and motivated as last year when he stepped into the Blues top job.
Just as important as winning was the responsibility on the Blues to grow the game south of the Tweed.
"We're on a big path," Fittler said. "NSW footy in general has had a lot of detractors lately for different reasons and we need to be the thing that motivates kids to play.
"I've seen how they work at the NSWRL and how little things can really be a challenge and hurt registrations. This is the way we can change. This will always be our best effort."
As for overcoming the hostility and often lop-sided penalty counts at Suncorp, where NSW have won just one of the past nine penalty counts at the venue, Fittler said: "The one thing you do know is that you're not going to get a favour.
"You've got no crowd to get you out of trouble. Half-time last year we were dRead More – Source