Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues coach Brad Fittler has backed the decision by star centre Latrell Mitchell to take a penalty shot at goal to try and force Origin III into golden point.
Some commentary after Queensland’s 20-18 win at Cbus Stadium on Wednesday night focused on whether NSW should have tried to run a couple more attacking plays instead of Mitchell trying to kick a goal from near the halfway line in the 78th minute.
“I wasn’t surprised… we’d had three sets on their line and weren’t able to score a try, so it wasn’t a dumb decision,” Fittler said.
“I was quite happy with him backing himself because I’ve been watching him kick goals for three weeks now – 50 (metres) is normally not a problem.
“The way we were attacking on their line didn’t give me much confidence that we were going to score a try anyway.”
Fittler hailed Mitchell and Tom Trbojevic as two of the standout players of the series. Trbojevic was named the Wally Lewis Medallist for Player of the Series – only the fifth Blues player to claim the prestigious honour since the award started in 2004.
“With (Mitchell) and Turbo they did all the damage in the first two games, without a doubt,” Fittler said.
“But I thought Queensland did a good job on them tonight. They had their defence well in order, but Latrell was still able to make the most of minimal opportunity (by scoring a try).
“When he’s playing, you’re just going to get more fans and crowds because they’re so good to watch. There were a couple of players out there tonight who were just brilliant – fantastic to watch – he’s one of them.”
Since he made his debut in the 2018 series, Mitchell has scored six tries in seven games. For the 2021 series alone, he scored four tries, had two try assists, three line breaks, and 21 tackle busts.
Fittler said the fact the Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues won the series, but missed the 3-0 whitewash, left a bittersweet taste. The Blues were chasing their first 3-0 series win since 2000 and were also aiming to become the first NSW team ever to win three consecutive games in Queensland
“They don’t come easy,” Fittler said of Origin clean sweeps.
“It is the nature of the beast and I don’t want to change it. Hopefully this spurs them (players) on if we get another opportunity.
“They were really good this year but it’s hard to be delighted tonight (Game Three result).”