Fittler, Buderus Pick a NSW Line-up Each Week
Every week since round one of the 2018 Telstra Premiership season NSW coaches Brad Fittler and Danny Buderus draw up a list of 19 players – their starting Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues 13 and their extended bench.
Buderus says it's not as simple as locking in your preferred Holden State of Origin team and sticking with it.
"You just don't know who is in the team until you're about to walk into the room (for team announcement) basically," Buderus told NRL.com.
"We pick a team every week. We have a good idea every week. But then injuries, suspensions, form, you never know what comes your way.
"So we have a group that we list every week, and we keep bringing ones in, putting a couple to the side.
"But it's more about bringing them in on the basis of the things we think we need to win the series."
Fittler told the media at a NSWRL 'Rising Stars' camp on Tuesday how difficult that can be as players and clubs drift in and out of form.
"The Bulldogs were good on the weekend with the likes of (Aaron) Woods, (David) Klemmer and (Josh) Jackson playing well for their club. That was Woods' best game on the weekend," he said of Canterbury's upset 27-10 win over North Queensland in Townsville.
"Penrith are going great with a lot of players there playing well.
"(Sydney Roosters fullback) James Tedesco has been a funny one just playing with a different team. And the way they play the only time he gets the ball is when he slips into dummy-half or demands the ball. Maybe he's got to do a bit more of that," Fittler said.
"The other key is that Melbourne aren't first, Cowboys aren't second and Brisbane aren't third. So it's working both ways.
"But we sit down each week, look at video, talk about players. It changes each week.
"Even watching Manly on the weekend and watching them get crushed (by Wests Tigers 38-12) and you're thinking 'Oh no… that changes the team'."
But Fittler believes he sits in a far better spot that previous coaches Laurie Daley, Ricky Stuart or Craig Bellamy have been in terms of in-form players.
"The key is that we've got a lot of players playing well. Players are actually pushing other players out, more so than the other way around," Fittler said.
"I don’t think many coaches from NSW have had that luxury for a long time.
"We seem to have had a lot of good forwards for a lot of years but we've got a lot of good centres and wingers playing well.
"There's a really good footy team moulding."
But will there be any incumbents from the 2017 series still there in 2018?
"It's hard to say just because of injury," Fittler said. "I'm of the mindset that I'm not really going to be set on anyone as yet. So most positions are open."
Buderus said it was a given "a few" would be resurrected.
"You're going to have to have some. You've got to pick guys with experience," he told NRL.com.
"You can't just pick a whole new fresh team with no Origin games in there.
"At this stage some of those players (from 2017) are starting to get back to their form and we need their experience back in there."
Fittler threw in a few new faces regardless, in halves Luke Brooks (Tigers) and Nathan Cleary (Penrith).
"He's going great," he said of Brooks.
"He's a totally different person from last year. How good for a player who has had to play under so much expectation the last couple of years finally show us what he can do.
"Very exciting… and then we have to wait and see on Nathan Cleary."