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Fittler admits Blues could have done things differently

NSW coach Brad Fittler has admitted that it was an "oversight" not to include Ryan Papenhuyzen as a bench utility for the State of Origin decider.

It seems obvious now given captain James Tedesco only lasted 20 minutes before copping a head knock as the Blues lost 18-14 to the Maroons at Suncorp Stadium last Wednesday.

But Fittler noted "it's not often you lose your fullback", and had Tedesco stayed fit, he believes it may have been tough to inject Papenhuyzen into the game for his debut when NSW had to do so much defence.

Papenhuyzen hadn't played since suffering a calf injury as he starred at fullback in Melbourne's grand final win over Penrith.

"It would've been good to pick him for game two [when he was injured] but I thought [bench forward] Nathan Brown was fantastic in game two," Fittler told the NSW Blues app.

"Going into game three, there were times there when we thought we wanted to change, but then when a side does so well  ... It's not often you lose your fullback and we also had Clint Gutherson there as well.

"In hindsight, we could've went another way, but we were also down 100 to 120 tackles at one stage – we'd made more than Queensland. So if we had have put Ryan Papenhuyzen on at the wrong time then that would have been a waste of an interchange as well.

"I think all in all, the team we picked for game three was the appropriate team and just things didn't go our way.

"You've got to go into each game feeling confident in your tactics and the players you've got. I just felt that especially Nathan Brown, especially what he'd done in game two, he would be the appropriate player in game three. Simple as that.

"There were a lot of factors ... First and foremost we lost our captain and one of our best players so that didn't help, but the fact we had no ball and defended our line for most of the game didn't help either.

"I'm not sure which player with limited time could come on and make such an impact."

Fittler also explained why he and the NSW selectors chose to play Clint Gutherson and Jack Wighton over natural centres Stephen Crichton and Zac Lomax, two Origin rookies who were in the 27-man squad.

Gutherson, a fullback for Parramatta, finished second to Wighton, Canberra's five-eighth, in this year's Dally M Medal count.

"My philosophy at the start of the series was picking the best players. We had a couple of young centres playing, we had a couple of young centres injured – Latrell Mitchell, Kotoni Staggs," Fittler said.

"We didn't think it was appropriate to throw young kids into that environment. Our first game was in Adelaide and on top of travelling on the day and a whole host of reasons, we went with a bit of experience. I thought Clint Gutherson and Jack Wighton did a pretty good job and in game two they did a great job.

Fittler left fuming after Blues shock Origin series loss

"The philosophy from the point of view of having the best players will always be around. Whether it comes to the point where we feel, OK, a specialist centre is better, we'll work it out then."

Meanwhile, Fittler indicated that veteran prop David Klemmer's omission from the team this year was linked to the Knights' patchy finish to the NRL season.

"I think Newcastle in general in the last couple of years have faded at the back-end of the year. So given the Origin series was at the back-end of the year this year we decided to go another way," he said.

"But Dave's been a dominant figure for a couple of clubs now and it's just about now Newcastle going to the next level."

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New South Wales Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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