Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues coach Brad Fittler has defended his decision to omit players from his extended squad after claiming it allows him to keep his options open for the State of Origin series next month.
Fittler has so far selected only six players for his extended squad including Payne Haas (Brisbane Broncos), Zac Lomax, Tyson Frizell, Cameron McInnes (St George Illawarra Dragons), Jake Trbojevic (Manly Warringah Sea Eagles) and Daniel Saifiti (Newcastle Knights).
Fans have questioned the move to leave out players from last year’s series including David Klemmer, Mitchell Pearce (Newcastle Knights) and Wade Graham (Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks) but Fittler said there was still plenty of time to go before the team comes into camp on 19 October.
Fittler announced his initial squad at the conclusion of the NRL regular season and will add more players to it as teams are eliminated from the NRL’s finals series.
“The fact is there’s still a lot of blokes playing in semi-finals so the one thing we do have is time on our side and we’re going to use it,” Fittler told Five with Freddy for nswrl.com.au.
“It will be very interesting just to see how all these boys handle semi-finals and it’s generally where a lot of your rep players end up is playing in those big games and playing for successful teams and winning teams.
“We’re just sitting back and watching as many games as we can before we have to make a hard and fast 27 (players).”
Fittler added he had been concerned by the Knights form towards the end of the season which saw them bow out in the first week of the finals after a 46-20 loss to South Sydney Rabbitohs.
“The fact is a few tries were scored straight through the middle,” Fittler said.
“That was a real big problem. They just crumbled and I think Newcastle’s back end of the season was a bit like that, it all fell away.
“Souths got better from halfway through the year, the Knights faded and that was reflected in the score line.”