Brydens Lawyers NSW State of Origin coach Brad Fittler has no hard feelings towards Andrew Fifita over his decision to snub the Blues for Tonga but believes the Cronulla prop could have handled his situation better by not going public with his gripes against the Sharks.
Fifita, who has represented NSW and the Australian Kangaroos in the past, was in contention for a Blues jumper this season until he decided to stand by the decision that he made at the end of 2017 to represent Tonga in the Rugby League World Cup.
We needed to pick the players that wanted to play for NSW, and that's the key.Brad Fittler Brydens Lawers NSW Blues Coach
The outspoken Cronulla prop took aim at his club for praising Valentine Holmes and Aaron Woods for making the Kangaroos team, as well as acknowledging their Junior Kangaroos representatives, but failed to recognise his selection for Mate Ma'a Tonga.
Fittler described the situation as an 'oversight' on both the part of the Sharks and Fifita, but added the Sharks prop should not have played his disappointment out in a public forum.
"I think that was an oversight from (Cronulla chief executive) Barry (Russell) considering Andrew and how he reacts to this stuff and how he feels about Tonga," Fittler told NSWRL.com.au.
"But I think it was also an oversight that it didn't take a phone call to Barry rather than use the public mainstream."
Fittler said he had not really spoken to Fifita since he chose Tonga over the NSW Blues this season other than to say hello to him at NRL games in his duties as a commentator for Channel Nine.
"There was nothing really to speak about," Fittler said.
"Once he decided to play for Tonga in my eyes he became ineligible to play for NSW.
"I speak to Andrew when I go to the games and say hello. There's no hard feelings."
The Blues coach also said he wasn't disappointed that Fifita put Tonga first, but it would be unlikely that he would ever be considered for NSW again based on the current representative calendar.
"We needed to pick the players that wanted to play for NSW, and that's the key.
"That was the major factor in why we picked the players, and who we picked.
"Tonga play a Test in the middle of the year so it makes it very hard for us to consider them for NSW."