“He’s the most recent coach of the Country Origin team as well, he’s had a strong history with the Origin pathways already.
“It’s a natural progression having him move into a role like that.”
Fitzgibbon joins Greg Alexander, Danny Buderus and Andrew Johns as ex-Origin stars assisting Fittler in his quest to defend the shield. Paul Sironen and Steve Roach are also heavily involved in the side’s preparation.
“I’m really excited about the prospect of having Fitzy in camp,” Buderus said.
“Craig Fitzgibbon is a great coach. I’ve had a lot to do with Fitzy over the years as a player and had a bit to do with him as a coach.
“He’s well prepared, highly organised and really modern in his approach to defence. He’s across a lot of things we want to develop as part of our strategies.”
Asked if he viewed Fitzgibbon as an NRL head coach-in-waiting, Buderus said: “Absolutely. There is a new crop of young ones coming through like him and Jason Ryles, a NSW player as well.
“They are guys working extremely hard as an assistant and I’m sure they will earn their dream of getting a first-grade shot one day.”
Former Blues Brett Hodgson, Timana Tahu, Matt Cooper and league legend Nathan Blacklock made guest appearances at the NSWRL Centre of Excellence on Wednesday to help mentor the next generation of Blues. The session focused on the positions of fullbacks, centres and wingers with the state’s best under-16 and under-18s prospects.
“To come back and have a small part in the next generation is really exciting,” Hodgson said.