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Fittler back for NSW

06/06/2004 09:09:12 PM Comments (0)

Sydney Roosters five-eighth Brad Fittler answered an SOS call from NSW and made himself available for a dramatic return to State of Origin rugby league - a decision which caught even his NRL club off guard.

Blues coach Phil Gould announced Fittler was ready to play in Origin II at Suncorp Stadium on June 16, three years after he made his farewell appearance for NSW at the ground.

It's understood Gould spoke with Fittler's wife Marie and asked her to ask the 32-year-old whether he would be interested in putting his hand up for Blues selection.

Gould said he would ring back on Sunday night to get his answer but before he had the chance, Fittler, who has played 29 games for the Blues - including 14 as captain - and is the youngest player to represent NSW in Origin football at 18 years and 114 days, rang back and said he was available for selection.

"It's a brave decision by him to put a lot of things on the line to come back for this game but he saw NSW really need him now...because we have a lot of injury problems," Gould said on Channel Nine.

"It's a huge boost for the game...this is about State of Origin being the highlight of the season and one of the greatest making a decision to come back and help his state in this manner, in this particular game."

Fittler turned his back on representative football after returning from the 2001 Ashes tour to concentrate on his club commitments.

That decision paid off in spades when he led the Roosters to the 2002 premiership.

The former Test captain is still regarded as one of the best five-eighths in the game but, even allowing for the Blues' injury problems, his decision to make himself available for NSW still caught senior Roosters officials off guard - even though Gould is the coaching director at the club.

Roosters coach Ricky Stuart conceded Fittler's return was a concern at club level while Roosters chief executive Brian Canavan admitted he was surprised with the decision.

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