True Blue Craig Wing believes the mix of players in the Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues squad now will ensure sustained Origin success under the watchful eye of head coach Brad Fittler.
Wing, who played in the Blues jersey 12 times including the 2003-05 series wins, was at Perth’s Optus Stadium today alongside Fittler and Queensland legend Greg Inglis for the launch of Game Two of the 2022 series to be played at the venue on 26 June.
NSW carved up the Maroons 38-6 in Game Two in the 2019 series – the last time Perth hosted a game – on their way to winning the Origin Shield that year.
In fact, the Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues have now won the series three of the past four years, which Inglis acknowledged could be attributed mostly to the ‘Fittler effect’.
Wing explained why he thought Fittler’s input had reaped such rewards.
“Freddy has done a tremendous job of building the culture of NSW and now our team has just the right amount of experience and success,” Wing said.
“Once the boys got that belief and a bit of success behind them, they’ve become very hard to stop.
“Here’s hoping that all the players Freddy is looking at, stay injury-free leading up to Origin.”
Getting to play an Origin at home in Sydney is also on Fittler’s wish-list. After the entire 2021 series was played in Queensland venues due to COVID restrictions, Game One in 2022 at Accor Stadium On June 8 will be the first Sydney game in two years followed by Perth (26 June) and Brisbane (13 July).
“We play so many games at neutral venues now … and our experience here (2019) was incredible so we’ve got great memories of this ground,” Fittler said.
“We plan to get the same result in Game Two this year after playing the opening match in Sydney. We’ve only had three games out of the last 10 at home so we’re definitely looking forward to that.
“But it’s 100 days until we play in Perth. Game Two is always the most crucial one since it can be the decider, given Origin is a three-game series. So, Game Two never misses – it’s always a standout.”
NRL Head of Elite Competitions Graham Annesley said it was never the intention to have a three-year break between games in Perth, but the health pandemic could not be foreseen.
“We’re so glad to be back here,” Annesley said.
“From Rugby League’s perspective Origin is the pinnacle of our game and to have the world’s best players all gathered under the one stadium roof is a spectacle not to be missed,” he said.
“I’d like to thank the Western Australian Government for supporting the game here on 26th of June, and with the Women’s Origin in Canberra two days earlier on the 24th , that’s Rugby League at the highest level on the national stage for two exciting days.”