Any predicted mental demons from past Origin misses clearly weren’t entertained by the man himself, who didn’t hesitate.
In an emotional post-match interview, his father Wayne spoke about the joy of his son now being able to share and understand what he had experienced as both a player and then a coach at this level.
In the sheds his beautiful mum Terri spoke about a difficult day leading up to kick-off. Hopefully without betraying confidence, she told me of how stressful it was to know that regardless of how well Mitchell played he would either be a hero or a scapegoat, totally dependent on the result.
As a wife and mother of two great footballers, she also understood fully the great rewards that the game offers but also at times how unfair it can be.
One of the highlights of my night was to watch a photograph taken in the dressing-room of the old Balmain connection of Steve Roach, Paul Sironen and Wayne arm-in-arm with Mitch. It was hard to discern out of Blocker, Siro and Junior as to who sported the proudest smile.
The Pearce pass found a future champion in Tom Trbojevic, the type of outstanding young man that you would welcome with open arms if your daughter bought him home to meet the family.
There was some criticism about picking both he and Jack Wighton out of club position before game two, but that was quickly put to bed over the next 160 minutes. Turbo is such a natural player that there is no such thing as out of position. The way he drew Corey Oates and passed at exactly the right time to Blake Ferguson was centre play 101.
Blake also had a super series following his return from Origin purgatory. Any player prepared to take the tough carries out of trouble, knowing that the only reward is to be physically assaulted again and again for the sake of five or 10 metres is respected by friend and foe alike.
Fergo is not poetry in motion, he can make simple look awkward, with the bottom half of the body seemingly operating independently of the top half.
However, there was nothing simple about his tip-toeing effort along the sideline to avoid Corey Norman and deliver the final pass. Awkward has never appeared so graceful.
It was entirely appropriate that James Tedesco had the final say by planting the ball over the line to win the game.
If we thought the Roosters had pulled off a coup signing Cooper Cronk, James Tedesco’s signature was genius. He was clearly player of the series and to avoid last year’s voting anomaly should have received each judge’s 3-2-1 vote.
Whilst the final try was match winning, I feel his involvement in Paul Vaughan’s touchdown before half-time was also crucial.
NSW had no right to go into the sheds locked up at 8-all but by not being behind on the scoreboard after a tough opening 40 minutes, their mindset was more positive and allowed their coach to deliver important information more effectively.
As for Brad Fittler, he was successful because he was nothing but Brad Fittler. Players see through things in our game very quickly that aren’t real and honest. Freddy is both. If you go back and have a look at Coyne’s “miracle” try you will see that the man around his legs desperately trying to save the day was B Fittler.
Over the last two years he has done exactly that.
Peter Sterling is a Parramatta great and a commentator for Channel Nine