Buzz: Fittler’s huge tactical error cost Blues
The moment NSW skipper James Tedesco staggered off Suncorp Stadium in a daze in the 19th minute, the Blues were done.
And for that reason coach Brad Fittler and his advisor Greg Alexander have to accept responsibility for a selection gamble that blew up in their faces in the Origin decider.
NSW should never have gone into this game with four middle forwards on the bench.
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Either Melbourne Storm's Ryan Papenhuyzen or the Sydney Roosters' Luke Keary should have been wearing the number 14 jersey for the overall balance of the side.
When Tedesco left the field the Blues were forced to move Clint Gutherson to fullback. No problem with that. He came second in the Dally M Medal as Parramatta Eels fullback.
The problem was having to bring Isaah Yeo, who has played all season in the middle for Penrith, into the centres. It doesn't work at this level.
The Tedesco head injury continues a shocking run of concussions for Sydney Roosters players.
They had 15 players concussed during the season compared to an average of six at the other clubs.
Then Boyd Cordner in Adelaide and Tedesco took the tally to 17.
There's no question it was an accidental collision with Josh Papalii but it was a low act from Jai Arrow to come in late and slam the NSW skipper back to the ground.
Considering the circumstances without Tedesco, the Blues battled on bravely.
They desperately missed his centerfield surges.
On the other hand the Maroons were just outstanding.
Cameron Munster … what a football player.
He's now close to being the number one player in the competition.
For the Maroons Harry Grant made the most stunning debut from the bench.
He opened the game up with sharp surges out of dummy half and a slick passing game.
From King Wally to Prince Harry. This guy is going to be in this Queensland side for another 10 years.
The great thing about this Origin series is that teams have been rewarded for doing the unexpected.
Less structure, more flair and enterprise.
It's a lesson for all NRL coaches who are often so stereotyped.
In game two, Nathan Cleary kept kicking early in the count to keep the Maroons defence guessing. In club footy they normally wait until the fifth tackle.
It was a similar story for the decider.
Val Holmes scored the Maroons' first try from running the ball on the fifth tackle. In NRL most teams drill it into the in-goal area to get a restart.
Again the Maroons were rewarded for their adventurous football with the Edrick Lee try in the 36th minute. What players kick the ball across field on zero tackle?
Munster did, Brenko Lee knocked it backwards and Edrick Lee scooped it up to score out wide.
The Maroons deserved the win and the series.
And so the longest season in rugby league history is finally over.
It's been 251 unforgettable days.
Originally published as Buzz: Fittler's huge tactical error cost Blues