Tom Trbojevic's Rise Into Fittler's Good Books
Before his debut Origin series, Brad Fittler was into Tom Trbojevic about the forward passes in his game, only for the rangy flyer to turn around and throw two more in his very next outing for Manly.
All throughout NSW camp, Fittler drilled his young fullback-turned-winger about intercepts.
"He's always into me that wingers should take more intercepts," Trbojevic said after the Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues' hard-fought 18-12 loss at Suncorp.
"That's one of his things, forward passes and intercepts."
When Trbojevic latched onto Cameron Munster's long ball and went the length of the field – turning the contest on its head when NSW had no right to be in it – he was already in Fittler's good books.
By the end of the 80 minutes he was his coach's pick for man of the series, the call that's sparked ill-feeling all over after Billy Slater claimed the honour having played only two games in a losing side.
Not bad on Trbojevic's part, the Origin rookie playing out of position in his first campaign, who Fittler – jokingly – said was "ready to punch in the head" over those forward passes in Manly colours.
"Tom Trbojevic was pretty outstanding across the three games. He was my pick," Fittler said.
"I think in all three games I can't remember an error. He scored a cracking try in the first game, he just ran, got belted. He got up again. He let in a try in the second game possibly and then outside that he was just faultless.
"He's just a warrior. He was good, he was very good for a fullback playing on the wing. It was some effort for a bloke playing his first series out of position."
For Trbojevic the praise is humbling. And yet another piece of Fittler wisdom the 21-year-old will take to heart, as he plots out what looks to be a long and fruitful representative career.
"That's pretty special, I didn't know Freddy said that," Trbojevic told NRL.com after the match.
"Brad Fittler's a legend of the game. He's a great coach and he's a great fella and a lot of the boys in this team, and Queensland, have performed all series.
"Billy Slater won the Wally Lewis medal and played unreal, a big congratulations to him.
"Freddy's been massive in camp for me. The relaxed approach is something that's really struck with me.
"Turning up for this camp I've really enjoyed it, just how calm and easy-going it can be. It shows in his coaching and it makes you become a better player."
Already Trbojevic is looking ahead to next year's series defence. And taking on one of Fittler's key messages once more.
"We can build on this for sure, simply because we have to," Trbojevic said.
"To come away with the loss is disappointing for sure, it's a hard one to sum up given we came in wanting to win the series and we did that. But next year, Queensland are going to be better. They always are. And we're going to have to be as well, and we should be with these kind of experiences."