Peter Sterling believes Brad Fittler’s Origin success could lead him back to the NRL coaching ranks at the expense of his full-time Blues job.
Fittler last coached in the NRL way back in 2009, but is on the cusp of three consecutive Origin shield wins in his first three seasons as NSW coach.
Sterling backed Fittler to make a success of a potential second stint as an NRL coach given the amount he has learned since his first failed stint with the Roosters.
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“I know he loves the media side of things, he’s around the players and he certainly loves Origin, I wonder whether it’s whetted the appetite for an NRL coaching job,” Sterling told Wide World of Sports’ The Blueprint.
“I think deep down there is something there. With that short stint with the roosters he got a taste for it and I don’t think he completely put it away.
“It might be a while down the track. It’d be interested to see if he could take the way he coaches over three games into a whole season knowing what he knows now but also from previously.
“I don’t think that is something that’s completely off the table.”
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Fittler coached the Roosters to 25 wins from 60 matches from 2007 to 2009 for a win percentage of 43.1, before he was replaced by Brian Smith and he hasn’t been sighted in the NRL since.
Fittler coached NSW City to three wins and a draw from six matches from 2012 to 2017 and Lebanon to one win from four matches at the 2017 World Cup.
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Those roles led to him taking over from Laurie Daley as coach of the Blues in 2018 and he is on track to inspire 2-1 series victories in all three of his Origin campaigns as head coach to date.
Sterling believes given Fittler’s experience as a player and a coach over the years he would be much better equipped to handle an NRL head coaching role the second time around.
“They love him, you can just feel that they know that he knows what they’re going through,” Sterling said of Fittler’s Blues players.
“Having been there himself, the reputation that he has in our game is second to none.
“I’m not surprised by the success he’s having because he’ll do something different. He’s making some big decisions. Dropping David Klemmer, he’s going into this series without Blake Ferguson, no Paul Vaughan.
“Form, under his coaching at Origin level, is more important than ever before. Incumbency comes into it, but if you’re in good form you’ll get your shot.
“The players like the fact his approach is a little bit different, they’re prepared to try it. But his basic philosophy to the players is ‘just go and play’. ‘I picked you because of what I see you do every week. Take that and just go and play.’
“Players love that type of freedom and that type of approach to their football.”