The Genius Of Brad Fittler And His Baby Blues
His style has been weird and outright bizarre at some points, but Brad Fittler has started a new era at the Blues.
On Wednesday night Brad Fittler will be gunning for a NSW Origin series sweep -- the first for the Blues in 18 years.
Fittler is being lauded for spearheading a new beginning for the Blues -- with his unconventional methods and player management skills, and the blooding of 13 debutantes.
The path to the Blues' success has been years in the making, with Fittler involved in the NSW 'Emerging' camps , which are designed to give young players a taste of representative camps before they are selected.
It also gives players a chance to get-to-know each other, the coach and staff, before they play together.
Fittler brought in NSW legends on to his coaching staff. Respected names in the game like Andrew Johns and Danny Buderus have brought in experience to the new players.
Fittler also put his players on a digital detox while in camp, encouraging the teammates to bond with each other without the distractions of their phones.
The coach has also brought yoga and meditation to the training camps, in the hope that a calm head will translate to playing on the field. And it seems to be working.
Fittler also made headlines when he had the team train barefoot, to "reconnect with the earth".
"I think we got pneumonia," joked Blues centre Latrell Mitchell on an appearance on Fox's Monday Night with Matty Johns show.
But it is the motto "Whatever it takes" that is being credited as bringing the Shield back to NSW.
Plastered on the walls at NSWRL HQ are these words, and the Imagine Dragons song 'What It Takes" has been blasted through the camp for the entire series.
It is this mantra which has set the tone for a side which puts it all on the line come game time, and one that they will take to Brisbane for a Blue Rinse.
2007-2009 Sydney Roosters
Fittler had his first taste of coaching when he took the reigns of a struggling Rooster in round 18 of the 2007 season. He went on the undefeated for five matches, including an impressive win over the Melbourne Storm (who went on to win the premiership before having it stripped for salary cap breaches).
Despite his Roosters coaching tenure intended to only be a short term job, Fittler stayed on for another two season. His time at the Roosters ended in misery, off-field dramas and a wooden spoon season in 2009 saw let go as a causality of a club clean out.
2012- 2017 NSW City
Three years later, in 2012, Fittler took over as the NSW City coach, and was a passionate supporter of the now-defunct City v Country clash. As City coach, Fittler won 3 titles and drew a fourth, losing just two clashes in the six years he coached the side.
Traditionally this match had been used by NSW selectors to choose the Blues' Origin team, but in its final years club coaches were reluctant to let their players contest the match -- some clubs even going as far as banning City v Country selection. But his time as City coach put his name on the map for the NSW board, as his passion for Origin became evident.
In June 2017, Fittler was named as the coach of the Lebanon national team for the upcoming Rugby League World Cup. Despite the Cedars drawing the toughest Pool in the competition against Australia, England and France, Fittler led the team into the knock out stages.
Fittler was commended on his man-management skills during his time at the helm of Lebanon, immersing himself in Lebanese culture and taking his time to get to know the players.