After selecting Parramatta Eels halfback Mitchell Moses in the Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues for Game Three of the 2021 Ampol State of Origin series, coach Brad Fittler will have a reunion of sorts when he mentors him for the first time since Lebanon’s 2017 Rugby League World Cup campaign.
Speaking to media on Monday as he prepares the NSW squad for a potential 3-0 series victory, Fittler remains extremely “grateful” to Moses and the Cedars team for helping him reach his potential as a representative coach.
“I’ve been a fan of Mitchell’s for a while,” Fittler said.
“Obviously I coached Mitchell in the Lebanon team and I’m always very grateful for the effort those boys put in because I’ve got to say, without their effort I am not sure if I’m doing what I’m doing right now.
“Between Mitchell and Robbie (Farah) and a few others, they were instrumental in that team doing well.”
The Cedars reached the Quarter Finals of that tournament and the following year Fittler was named head coach of the Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues. He has now coached the side to three out of four series wins.
“I’m very fortunate I get to give Mitchell a chance – I don’t like to see anybody get injured but Nathan got injured in the last game and will be out for a few weeks, so I’m very excited to give him (Moses) an opportunity,” Fittler explained.
Asked why Moses was selected for NSW over others, including South Sydney pair Adam Reynolds and Cody Walker, Fittler said it was to minimise “disruption” to the backline.
The 2021 series has seen the Blues’ halves take on a simplified role to kick well and distribute early ball to a damaging back five that features Tom Trbojevic, Latrell Mitchell, James Tedesco, Brian To’o and Josh Addo-Carr.
“There was talk around Cody and Adam, and I just thought the disruption from the point of view that you change your whole game to play like South Sydney – they’re doing a brilliant job for South Sydney and they seem to be doing it with ease,” Fittler said.
“There’s a few players at the moment that could have come in to the position, but I felt like having Mitchell there and bringing Jack (Wighton) into five-eighth was the least disruption going forward.”
Fittler was also quick to put aside any criticism about Moses’ ability to perform in big matches, showing no hesitation on whether he could make the step up and also learn from the experience.
“Well I’ve coached him before, so I’ve seen him in action and what I saw was a quality player who can lead a team around – he’s a great leader,” Fittler argued.
“Only one team gets to win the Grand Final each year and to be fair most of the time it’s been Melbourne or the Roosters, so outside anyone playing for them you’ve got to say that every one of those players may be exactly the same (having the potential to perform well on the big stage).
“I think a lot of people are learning from those (types of) teams and this will help Mitchell going forward given it’s a big game, and an opportunity to play in another big game.”