Brad Fittler throws South Sydney flyer into NSW State of Origin mix


With the first match of the series just eight weeks away, Trbojevic is now in doubt to turn out in Origin I.

He was one of Fittler’s best during a dominant 2-1 series win last year and will be given every chance to prove his fitness as a result.

But if the strain does sideline him for the full nine weeks, Fittler said one of Graham, Canberra young gun Nick Cotric or Blake Ferguson would likely suit up in his place.

“I just spoke to Tom this morning and it sounds like the injury is more serious than last time,” Fittler said on Monday.

“We’ll wait and see how he goes but there are a few guys there who could do a job for us. Cotric’s been playing really well, Blake’s going really good and then there’s a guy like Graham – he’s going really well too.

“They’ve all been scoring tries … I’m not sure if they’ve saved many, I would have to have a closer look.

“What are we, eight weeks away? There’s plenty of time between now and then but they’re all definitely in the mix.”

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Seeing Cotric and Ferguson thrown into the mix will come as little surprise given the former was part of the Blues camp at the end of last year and the latter has already pulled on the sky blue jersey seven times between 2013 and 2017.

But Graham would be a genuine bolter. The 19-year-old – who captained the Australian Schoolboys in 2017 – has just 25 career appearances for the Rabbitohs to his name.

He has been a finishing force on Souths’ left edge, having played the majority of his football on the right-hand side of the field alongside Dane Gagai last year.

If Fittler opts to pick one of Graham or Cotric, it would be a continuation of the youth-first approach which regenerated the Blues in 2018.

If Fittler opts to name Ferguson instead, he will be welcoming back a player who brushed the team’s camp at the end of last year.

“He’s playing really good footy at the moment,” Fittler said. “Everything (Ferguson) is doing at the moment has been highlighted. He made a mistake there on the weekend (against Cronulla) and everyone was into him.

“It’ll be interesting to see how he responds to that over the next couple of weeks.”

Fittler has also been impressed by the work of Ferguson’s Parramatta teammate Mitchell Moses.

The Eels halfback was the best player on the ground in the Eels’ 24-12 win over the Sharks, helping set up three of their four tries.

If he can string more performances like that together, pressure will be applied to incumbent halves Nathan Cleary and James Maloney.

“He was great on the weekend,” Fittler said. “The way he has been running the ball is really impressive.”

Sam is a sports reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.

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