Latrell axed as Fittler makes seven changes

Latrell Mitchell has been sensationally axed by NSW coach Brad Fittler, paying the price for a poor series opener at Suncorp Stadium.

The Sydney Roosters centre produced a quiet game in the Suncorp Stadium opener and has paid the price.

Mitchell was heavily criticised for the display, with Fittler claiming: "I know they're not that happy at the Roosters and there's a lot going on in his life at the moment with managers.

"There always seems to be something other than footy.

"He's a superstar, we all want him out there playing. He obviously needs to work on his motivation."

 

Latrell Mitchell has been axed by the Blues.
Latrell Mitchell has been axed by the Blues.

 

Former NSW coach Phil Gould also weighed in: "It was very telling early in the game because they actually put him away on tackle five and he had (Josh) Addo-Carr outside of him and he didn't even think to run the ball. He just kicked," Gould said.

"And I thought, if that was Sunday afternoon playing for the Roosters he'd have swatted that bloke out of the way and created a chance.

"He just wasn't in the game tonight and he has got to decide whether or not he wants to be at this level and wants to play. Because he can't come here as a key member of this side have such a poor input as what he did tonight."

Meanwhile, forgotten five-eighth James Maloney has been handed a shot at State of Origin redemption after Mitchell Pearce was forced to rule himself out just hours before the NSW team was named.

Pearce was certain to be selected for a fairytale Blues comeback in Perth.

 

Mitchell Pearce is back for the Blues. Picture: AAP Image/Darren Pateman
Mitchell Pearce is back for the Blues. Picture: AAP Image/Darren Pateman

But the current Dally M leader on Sunday made a heartbreaking phone call to Fittler, withdrawing with a hip injury sustained in Saturday's loss to the Storm.

Pearce is also battling an ongoing groin injury.

Maloney led the Blues to series victory last year but was dumped from the game one side due to poor early-season form with the Panthers.

He has since produced two matchwinning displays in a row for Penrith to force his way back into the NSW side.

Maloney will partner club teammate Nathan Cleary in the halves, reuniting the combination that last year secured NSW's second win in 13 series.

 

James Maloney is back in Blue.
James Maloney is back in Blue.

In all, Fittler has named seven new faces in Maloney, Wade Graham, Blake Ferguson, Daniel Saifiti, Tariq Sims, Tom Trbojevic and Dale Finucane.

Payne Haas (hamstring), Nick Cotric (ankle) and David Klemmer (wrist) were unavailable.

Five-eighth Cody Walker, centre Josh Morris, bench forward Angus Crichton and Mitchell were dropped.

 

Brad Fittler, Andrew Johns and Danny Buderus during the NSW State of Origin training session at the NSWRL Centre of Excellence at Sydney Olympic Park. Picture: Jonathan Ng
Brad Fittler, Andrew Johns and Danny Buderus during the NSW State of Origin training session at the NSWRL Centre of Excellence at Sydney Olympic Park. Picture: Jonathan Ng

 

In key news:

* Jack Wighton has been promoted from the bench to a starting centre role;

* Ferguson returns to Origin for the first time since he was caught drinking with Josh Dugan at a Lennox Head pub before losing the 2017 series with the Blues;

* Highly-rated prop Saifiti will make his Origin debut in place of injured Newcastle teammate Klemmer. Weighing 121kgs, Saifiti produced super performances against the Roosters and South Sydney and has huge support from Knights legends and NSW assistant coaches Andrew Johns and Danny Buderus;

 

Daniel Saifiti will make his Origin debut.
Daniel Saifiti will make his Origin debut.

* Graham earns a bench spot despite returning from an ACL injury just two weeks ago. Graham, who hasn't played for NSW since 2017, has been impressive since his comeback, notching one try assist, one try contribution, two linebreak assist and two linebreaks in just 87 minutes;

 

Wade Graham of the Sharks has won a recall to the NSW team. Picture: AAP Image/Craig Golding
Wade Graham of the Sharks has won a recall to the NSW team. Picture: AAP Image/Craig Golding

 

* Sims earns a recall for his second Origin appearance after making his debut in last year's game three dead rubber;

* Melbourne enforcer Dale Finucane has been rewarded for consistent club form with a NSW debut on the bench;

* Tom Trbojevic earns a recall after missing the series opener with a hamstring issue.

 

NSW TEAM

1. James Tedesco

2. Blake Ferguson

3. Tom Trbojevic

4. Jack Wighton

5. Josh Addo-Carr

6. James Maloney

7. Nathan Cleary

8. Daniel Saifiti

9. Damien Cook

10. Paul Vaughan

11. Boyd Cordner (c)

12. Tyson Frizell

13. Jake Trbojevic

INTERCHANGE

14. Dale Finucane

15. Tariq Sims

16. Cameron Murray

17. Wade Graham

 

QUEENSLAND TEAM

1. Kalyn Ponga

2. Corey Oates

3. Michael Morgan

4. Will Chambers

5. Dane Gagai

6. Cameron Munster

7. Daly Cherry-Evans (captain)

8. Dylan Napa

9. Ben Hunt

10. Josh Papalii

11. Felice Kaufusi

12. Matt Gillett

13. Josh McGuire

INTERCHANGE

14. Moses Mbye

15. Tim Glasby

16. Jarrod Wallace

17. David Fifita

 

16. Cameron Murray

17. Wade Graham



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