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Opinion

The unfair criticism of Brad Fittler

22 Jun 22, 10:13AM 0 Comments

Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk

Photo by Getty Images

As a player nobody can doubt that Brad Fittler is one of the greatest of all time.

In 1989 he made his first-grade debut for the Penrith Panthers as a 17-year-old and within the next two seasons had represented both New South Wales in State of Origin and Australia.

He would go on to win a plethora of individual awards, multiple Origin series and became a two-time premiership winner, first at the Panthers in 1991 and then as captain of the Sydney Roosters in 2002.

Fittler’s playing career ended in 2004 and just under three years later he landed his first role as a head coach in the NRL at his beloved Roosters.

In 2008 he led the Chooks to their first finals series since his departure as a player but things soon took a sour turn as Fittler was involved in an off-field incident and the club finished last in 2009, he parted ways with the Roosters at season’s end.

For the next eight years, Fittler primarily remained committed to his role as a pundit on Channel Nine’s NRL coverage but was involved with New South Wales’ pathways program as a coach and was at the helm for Lebanon during the 2017 Rugby League World Cup.

His involvement with the emerging Blues certainly helped him land the role of head coach for the New South Wales State of Origin team in 2018, a role he still holds today after three series wins in four attempts.

Despite his success the media and fans of both the Blues and Maroons seem to take every opportunity possible to question Fittler’s ability as a State of Origin coach despite the success he has brought to New South Wales.

Fittler’s side lost by just six points in Origin one yet the 50-year-old was verbally crucified by the critics after just one game.

People seem to have forgotten that around this time last year he oversaw one of the most dominant series wins from a New South Wales side ever.

This is not the first time people have jumped the gun with Brad Fittler before though, actually this exact situation has occurred more times than not since the former Australian captain took over as coach of the Blues.

In both 2019 and 2020, New South Wales lost game one of the series 18-14 and Fittler was made out to be one of the worst Origin coaches of all time before making changes that saw the Blues win game two by at least 20 points in both campaigns.

As coaching a State of Origin side is much different to coaching in the NRL it’s unfair to say that Fittler is a great Rugby League coach overall but his record as coach of the Blues speaks for itself.

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