Why the Blues boss deserves the benefit of the doubt, no matter how confusing his choices

For both New South Wales and Queensland, the State of Origin teams have been named this week, with nothing more certain than to question who is inside and who is outside.

This is especially true of the Blues and coach Brad Fitler, who made some changes to his 2021 squad that led to Game 1 of the series. Several key players, including Lateral Mitchell and Tom Trobozevic, are missing due to injuries. There have been some amazing inclusions like Daniel Tupu, Jacob Saifiti and Joseph Swalley. Holding the scars of Tyson Frisel and Tariq Sims has also confused people.

Then there are things that people can’t stop talking about. The decision to drop Jack Trobozevich seems to be more comfortable with fans than the decision to drop Josh Ado-Carr, a player who has been a Blues stallwart for years.

There is also some confusion about Jack Whitton’s choice to start at the center, a position where he has very limited experience, above an experienced center like Stephen Crichton who will step down from the bench.

But after Freddie included a record-breaking 11 debut in his first year in charge of the Blues in 2018, and since then any other Blues coach has an equal-to-win percentage, I have learned better than question his ability to make decisions and coach, although his choices are confusing. Maybe.

While there has been a lot of focus on Tupau’s decision to drop Ado-Car, there are some other decisions that have not received the same attention.

As a Paramatman fan, I was very accustomed to a few things as the team had been down the stairs for most of 2010. Firstly, my team is not playing final football and secondly, the lack of players selected for representation.

Both trends have changed in recent years, with Ellis consistently playing final football and more players being selected to play representative football. Junior Paolo, Mitch Moses and Clint Gutherson have all been selected as part of the recent Blues squad, and Reed Mahney has also been selected as part of the Queensland Maroons Camp.

This year Eels has continued to feature in the Blues squad but, most notably, Ryan Matterson and Reagan Campbell-Gillard have also been selected.

This is Campbell-Gillard’s first state since his solo appearance in 2018.

Campbell-Gillard is a player who has certainly faced challenges in his career. After being elected in 2018, his jaw was broken. With 10 screws and two plates on his jaw from surgery, he was excluded from the rest of the NSW campaign.

It took some time for Campbell-Gillard to find form after recovering from that injury and in 2019 he spoke openly about his challenges.

But since moving to Iles in 2020, he has become an important part of Pales as well as the Iles Forward Pack.

He has been rewarded for his positive form with Ellis and will be a strong addition to the Blues forward pack.

Joining him is his Ils teammate Matterson.

After his impressive form over the last six weeks, Matterson has done enough to be selected and Fitler is another good example of not being afraid to pick players who are in form for his team. In his first eight games of the year, Matterson made three tries, three line breaks and averaged over 150 runs per game.

He has been able to show the versatility of moving from the middle to the edge and has been able to play the role of ball player as well as being an effective offloader.

Matterson came to know about this during an interview with Channel 9 on Monday, to which he had the following reaction.

“Are you serious?” Am I really playing? My man Freddie, thank you, “he said.

“Huli Dooley, wow.”

So there seems to be some controversy over other selections, Campbell-Gillard and Matterson are two positive stories that prove to other players that with good form they may have a way to get into the blues squad.

When it comes time to name our State of Origin team we all become experts, some of us even start preparing them as soon as the regular season starts.

But Freddie has shown that he is capable of strengthening the team at the top level, and I’m sure he will do so next Wednesday night.

If that doesn’t happen, it’s time to dump her and move on.

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