True Blue Brett Kimmorley has provided a rare insight into the tactical mindset of Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues coach Brad Fittler that he first noticed 21 years ago when he captained the last NSW team to an Origin clean sweep.
The Blues will play their Origin finale tomorrow night (Wednesday 14 July) at Cbus Super Stadium on the Gold Coast having already reclaimed the Shield after record-breaking wins in Game One in Townsville and Game Two in Brisbane.
If NSW win Game Three they will become the first Blues team since 2000 to win an Origin series 3-0 and the first NSW team ever in Origin history to win all three games in Queensland.
Kimmorley was part of a star-studded line-up in 2000 which also included Fittler, Tim Brasher, Ryan Girdler, Geoff Toovey, Andrew Johns and Ben Kennedy. The Blues won 20-16 in Game One, 28-10 in Game Two before a comprehensive 56-16 in Game Three.
The former Blues halfback said he could see plenty of similarities between the way Fittler led the team in 2000 and the way he coaches the current crop of stars which includes James Tedesco, Tom Trbojevic and Latrell Mitchell.
“The one thing I remember about Freddy that series, it wouldn’t have mattered how many set plays or moves we’d done at training – the last ten minutes was all about pushing forward, playing flat, playing fast and making sure you’re ready to react to one of your teammates making a line break,” Kimmorley said.
“I think he understands what Origin’s all about. If you watch the (NSW) State of Origin team play, as soon as they’ve won a play-the-ball they all flood down the middle, push up in support and understand that it’s not so much about shape and structure, but a player owning the moment.
“Some of our great players for a long time in Origin; Joey’s nailed some great moments, Danny Buderus - who are both in and around the team - the Mortimers’ in the early ‘80s.
“Now some of those guys in the current side are owning their moments and they’re great players at the moment. I’ve always said if you can be great at Origin, you’re a great player.”
Kimmorley said he had enjoyed the lead-up to Game Three at Stadium Australia in 2000 as the Blues had already won the series.
“It was an enjoyable time because we’d won the first two games, so it made the third week a bit more enjoyable in camp – less pressure and (we were) less stressed,” Kimmorley said.
“Obviously it (Game Three) became famous for the post-try celebration during that match, a bit of that was rehearsed throughout the week.
“We had a very good football side led by the current coach and our captain, who made sure that we trained extremely hard and also made sure we got on together."
Looking back on the series, Kimmorley was particularly appreciative of the squad around him because he was making his NSW debut at the time.
“I was a young kid in my first series,” he said.
“Tim Brasher, that was his last series so he’d been around Origin for a long while. (There was) ‘Freddy’ (Brad Fittler), ‘Tooves’ (Geoff Toovey), Andrew Johns.
“So, we had a really quality side, I didn’t know what to expect and what it was, and just rolled with enjoying football. I was in a pretty good period for a couple of years where everything seemed to work and everything went well.
“It was just a really, really enjoyable time and one that I can look back (on) now, and there’s only been one other 3-0 series victory since that win in 2000. Queensland won 3-0 in 2010, but apart from that it rarely happens so it’s great to be a part of history.”