The coaching progression of Brad Fittler reached a greater height when it was recently announced he would coach the NSW Blues for 2018 and 2019.
Fittler has been working within the NSWRL in various coaching roles for some time, guiding the highly successful NSW under-16s and 18s sides since 2015, which came after being an assistant at State of Origin level in the winning 2014 side.
He also took the reins of City Origin in 2012 - winning three, losing two and drawing one - with the most impressive victory coming this year when the side struggled to put together a team and drafted players in who had not played NRL so far in the season.
The City win shows his ability to turn a group of individuals into a winning team with a strong culture, and proved it was no fluke by taking Lebanon to the quarterfinals of the 2017 Rugby League World Cup.
“Getting the job is the greatest honour that I’ve had thus far in my Rugby League life,” Fittler said.
“The fact is that [the] NSWRL run an unbelievably successful business at the moment, Laurie [Daley] has set a pretty high standard for anyone to follow so it’s going to be a lot of work to do.
“It’s going to take a lot of work [to] build on a lot of relationships to see if we can beat this Queensland team, and just build the game and build the product.”
As a Rugby League legend, the impact Fittler has had on the NSWRL Pathways over the past three years has been enormous.
He is undefeated in 2016 and 2017 with his NSW under-16s and 18s teams, only going down in 2015 when the program began.
One of the greatest ever NSW Blues, there is little doubt that Fittler’s stacked resume combined with his mere presence, people skills and off-field influence has him in good stead for Origin success in years to come.
“His qualifications for the role are impeccable, and his standing within the game is pre-eminent,” NSWRL Chairman Dr. George Peponis said.
“He has coached our City Origin team, and worked with our pathways teams, and achieved outstanding success.
“He has played 31 Origin games, and knows what it takes to win State of Origin.
“We are confident we’ve chosen the right person, and that we are headed into a successful era for the NSW State of Origin Blues.”
Fittler also coached the Sydney Roosters for two and a half seasons from mid-2007 to 2009.
It was a roller-coaster ride in terms of results, and Fittler is determined to take the lessons learned from then and bring it into the Origin arena to create a winning environment.
“When I got them they were coming last, within 12 months they were coming first, within another 12 months we came last again,” Fittler said.
“What I’ve got to do is learn from my mistakes and take out of what I did well and why we did well early, and then just stay consistent with that.
“The fact is we played in two semi-finals the first year and played under some really big environments; I learned a lot from those times, more from the year we lost that I ever have in my life.
“It’s been unbelievable what State of Origin has done for our game and how the people have just got involved in the concept and where they’ve taken the game to so it’s my job to not only prepare a side to win a game but make sure that legacy lasts long when I leave.”