Freddy Fittlers’ Fumble and How To Sink A Team

Brad Fittler
Photo Credit: Getty Images/Cover Art

State of Origin is a simply unforgiving game, and as we’ve just played witness, that is the case more now than ever. Both Josh Addo-Carr and Jake Trbojevic have been dropped ahead of NSW’s Game One in Homebush. Here is the lowdown.

The undeserved tale of a ‘Fox’ and a ‘Hard-hitter.’

Josh Addo-Carr has soared across the white line for a blistering 108 tries across 138 NRL appearances for all of the Bulldogs, Storm, and Tigers collectively. While this season alone, despite representing a struggling Canterbury side, he’s still managed to be their main talisman with six four-pointers across 11 matches. As if that wasn’t enough, he’s won three State of Origin Series playing for the Blues, including last campaign. Yet he’s been dropped from Brad Fittler’s side ahead of Game One!

Meanwhile, for herculean Lock Jake Trbojevic, he’s averaging 41.5 tackles per match this season for the Sea Eagles across 12 clashes. He has a tackle success rate of 96% on the season, while he is ranked equal fourth in the League for total tackles completed and is just three off of the third place. Similarly to Addo-Carr, Trbojevic has also been a mainstay of the Blues sides in recent years. Yet he’s also been dropped from Fittler’s side ahead of Game One!

There’s no good way to sum up, these dumbfounding decisions because, simply put, that’s what they are, dumbfounding! Legendary Commentator Andrew Voss summed up the choice made about Addo-Carr perfectly with this Tweet. “I think Josh Addo-Carr must have got a new mobile phone and email address when he joined the Bulldogs. NSW selectors obviously couldn’t contact him.” Whilst supporter saintbenny63 called out the Trbojevic situation for what it is and continues to be. “Brad Fittler picks Tariq Sims, who has done nothing all season yet leaves Jake Trbojevic out of the Origin squad. What a wood duck Freddy is.” It’s safe to say I am far from the only person questioning Fittler’s mindset.

The statistical difference here? The statistical difference there? The statistical differences are nowhere!

Diving deeper, the situation gets fuzzier and fuzzier, with no apparent statistics highlighting that Addo-Carr would be any worse than the man who nicked his spot in the squad, Daniel Tupou. Addo-Carr has scored two fewer tries this season vs Tupou (six vs eight), despite Sydney placing six positions ahead of Canterbury. Whilst each player also has two try assists respectively on the season. Addo-Carr is also averaging 5.3 tackle breaks vs Tupou’s 3.3. Whilst he’s also made 53 tackles to Tupou’s 36. In addition, with the State of Origin essentially being a game of matchups, the ‘Fox’ has that covered too. When the two sides clashed back in RD8, Canterbury prevailed 16-12 at Accor Stadium, as he scored tries in the 13th and 20th-minutes of the match + he ran for 163 ms.

As for Trbojevic, Sims’s Dragons side is currently placed just one win ahead of the Sea Eagles. Yet Trbojevic is seemingly a victim of his own teammates’ poor play, as while he’s averaging 41.5 tackles per match, Sims is currently at just 25! Sims averages 89 running ms per clash, while Trbojevic is at 79, with just a 10 ms difference in that department. In addition, Trbojevic, throughout his time with NSW, has averaged just under 31 tackles per match while missing only 0.68. (with thanks to the Rolling Ball). The fuzziness continues.

How to blow up a successful team 101

The controversial decision to drop Addo-Carr has “caused quite a stir with the players”. Rightfully, it should have given the massive part he’s played in their success over recent campaigns (my opinion); Fittler told SEN’s breakfast show with Andrew Voss and Greg Alexander. While he wasn’t afraid to stir the pot a bit either, saying, “I’m surprised that people would be surprised,” re his non-selection. Whilst its also worth noting that the Blues have been the top state (by and large) over recent seasons, with the Maroons dominance only ending not that long ago. And loyalty was a crucial part of their historic run, so it might not hurt to copy what they did with some of our own. Cough, cough, ‘Freddie,’ I hope you’re reading this.

For Trbojevic, he has many people backing him, including respected Sydney Morning Herald & Nine News Senior Sports Reporter Michael Chammas, who Tweeted out, “Sadly, there’ll be no Jake Trbojevic in the Blues team. He has been left out. Big call from Freddie.”

While others lamented that his passion would be missed on the field, it was sad to see him not get picked. He goes hard on the field with or without the ball and puts his body on the line for his team.

Fittler’s choices have sparked a wild reaction from within the Rugby League community. Time will tell whether he’s right or wrong. Because if not, this could put a severe dent in his coaching CV and will screw over two loyal, passionate and skilful players. Hopefully, winning the series will answer all those questions and make me eat my words.

Toby is somebody who is a knowledgeable and passionate sports fan, but none more than the NRL. From a young age, he has been covering and supporting Australia’s greatest code. He has diplomas in both sports and business, while he loves a good laugh, some good food and travelling.

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