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'Doesn't mean anything': NSW boss unfazed by State of Origin I defeat

By AAP
(Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

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Brad Fittler was unusually tightlipped as the NSW coach fronted a slightly awkward boxing-style joint media conference on the eve of State of Origin II in Perth.

In front of members of the public, Fittler was flanked by Blues captain James Tedesco, Queensland coach Billy Slater and Maroons skipper Daly Cherry-Evans.

The setting didn’t lend itself to elaborate responses but Fittler kept his cards close to his chest before aiming to square the series at a sold out Optus Stadium on Sunday.

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The Blues coach knows his side is facing an uphill battle to turn the series around after losing the opener in Sydney.

NSW haven’t come back from losing an Origin I game in Sydney and gone on to win the series since 1994.

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In 2019, Fittler took NSW to Perth while 1-0 down, winning Origin II 38-6 and then going on to lift the shield in the decider.

“We reacted,” he said of his learnings from 2019.

“I think we went away and noted that we could do some things better. We’ve trained accordingly but it gives you no guarantees.

“We need to make it happen, just because you lost the first one doesn’t mean anything.”

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Fittler has reacted once again, this time making seven changes.

The most notable of those resulted in hooker Damien Cook being benched for Api Koroisau and the recall of Jake Trbojevic.

Trbojevic will play at prop with Junior Paulo, who was ineffective as an interchange forward in Origin I and is one of the game’s best pace-setting props, coming off the bench again.

“Over the time in our team Junior has done both, he has come off the bench more so than not,” Fittler said.

One of the main focuses for NSW in training this week has been slowing down Queensland’s fast ruck, an area the Blues lost out in during game one.

They were criticised for being “too nice” by Fittler’s deputy Greg Alexander, who said the Blues needed to push the envelope with referee Ashley Klein on Sunday.

“We’ve just done our due diligence, like everyone does and asked for explanations,” Fittler said.

“Outside of that, no I haven’t spoken to (referees boss) Gerard Maxwell.”

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