Players from both the City and Country Women’s teams were putting their boots on at the NSWRL Centre of Excellence, when in walked True Blues Brad Fittler, Andrew Johns, Nathan Hindmarsh, Steve Simpson, Craig Wing, Steve Menzies and Paul McGregor.
The seven former Origin stars had just put the Men’s Under 18s and Under 16s City and Country squads through their paces at a positional coaching session.
But in a first for the women’s game, members of the Bryden’s Lawyers NSW Origin coaching staff ran the ball drills, organised the tackling bag work, and set up an opposed session between City and Country while Johns acted as the referee.
The City-Country Open Women’s game – one of the cornerstones of selecting the 2021 Harvey Norman NSW side for June’s Origin game – is on Saturday at Bankwest Stadium (2.30pm kick-off).
The insight the men were able to share is invaluable. Fittler said his coaches also learned from the experience of coaching the women.
“Both of us benefited from that session and from my side if there were any skeptics among the coaches, well that’s gone,” Fittler told nswrl.com.au.
“The girls also realise how serious coaches take their footy in attention to all the details that are part of the basics of the game.
“There are some fine details there that I hoped we passed on well enough for them to see that instant improvement.
“And to see the reaction of the coaches, while not surprising, was still ‘Wow’ at the skills and passing of the women.”
Fittler was seen in deep conversation with NSW Women’s coach Kylie Hilder, who in her first stint as Harvey Norman NSW Women’s Origin coach is hedging her bets on her team’s make-up.
“I have an idea but it’s not firm,” Hilder said.
“I always like to keep my options open.
“The best people that are playing in their positions will be the ones selected.
“The nucleus of last year’s squad have been performing and playing well throughout the Harvey Norman NSW (club) competition.
“Saturday’s game is just part of the process of us coming up with our final team.
“It’s not a case of ‘This game makes all our decisions’. I’ve been watching games for five weeks and we’ve got a couple of other weeks of Harvey Norman games after this.
“So that’s when we come up with our final squad.”
The women’s State of Origin will be played on Friday Jun 25 at Sunshine Coast Stadium.