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Fittler holding fire on NSW Blues centre dilemma

Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues coach Brad Fittler hasn’t given much away around the selection headache he faces for the Ampol State of Origin series decider but has admitted the debut of Matt Burton was “outstanding.”

The Blues have given themselves a chance to claim the series and retain the Origin shield after a convincing 44-12 win at Optus Stadium in Perth on Sunday night. Fittler made seven changes to the team for Game Two and will have even more options available for the decider.

The NSW coach is expected to choose his team on Monday after the completion of Round 16 - leaving players only one chance to push their claims.

The most contentious position is centre with Burton (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs) and Stephen Crichton (Penrith Panthers) both backing up for their clubs this weekend after playing their part for the winning Blues team in Perth.

Other options in action this round include Jack Wighton (Canberra Raiders), who was one of the Blues best players from Game One but missed Game Two with COVID-19, and Latrell Mitchell (South Sydney Rabbitohs), who is returning after a lengthy layoff but won the True Blue award last year.

Fittler has said in the past that he does not finalise his team until the final match of the round to allow for any setbacks through injury or suspension – a position he maintained to 100% Footy on Channel Nine last night.

“I think we’ll just wait until this weekend,” Fittler said.

“But I thought Matthew Burton was outstanding, one of the better debut games I’ve seen actually and great to have around the camp as well, he was a really popular member.

“He’s a pretty quiet kid, his family came over and it was lovely to meet them, and you can see why he is who he is. They’re a wholehearted family and you can tell they love the game.

“He’s gone to the Dogs and it hasn’t been easy, he’s changed positions but then stepped back into his old position, new role, different players and handled it with ease.”

Acknowledgement of Country

New South Wales Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.