Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues coach Brad Fittler has said all factors will be taken into consideration for State of Origin team selection after Blake Ferguson snubbed a team-building exercise for the extended squad at NSWRL headquarters on Friday.
Ferguson was a notable absentee from the 32 players who had been invited to Sydney Olympic Park to reflect on the success of the 2018 series – which saw the Blues win the shield for the first time since 2014 – and begin preparations for next year’s defence.
Fittler stressed he was not disappointed by Ferguson’s no-show but also revealed that he had not received a courtesy call from the Parramatta winger before the day started.
“That’s his choice, I don’t get disappointed, I’m just happy all the other blokes who did turn up and made the effort, that’s his decision,” Fittler told NSWRL.com.au.
“Everything gets taken into consideration (when picking the team). Everything that happens get taken into consideration.
“I sit down with three or four other staff and we go through who we think’s doing really well and who we think will do the jersey proud and that’s when we make a decision.
“I haven’t spoken to Blake today, but he’s a pretty shy bloke. He just wants to concentrate on Parramatta so there’s some credibility in that and I think (Eels coach) Brad Arthur will reap the rewards of his commitment to them.”
It was only last month Fittler extended an olive branch to Ferguson after announcing him in the extended Origin squad. The Eels winger last played for NSW in 2017 where he was criticised for consuming alcohol in the lead-up to the decider which the Blues lost.
“Everything he did this year showed that he put the team first,” Fittler told NSWRL.com.au at the time. “He was unbelievable this year. He deserved winger of the year.
“The challenge for him now is going to be to over to a club that didn't do as well as the Roosters and be a leader but if he continues to play like he does then he'd have to be considered.”