“I’d know how much those boys would be hurting at the moment, but if you’re talking purely State of Origin, any time these players can rest [is a bonus], especially given the tough month the Roosters have had,” Fittler said.
“To play Penrith and Canberra, and be one pass away from winning both those games – and have plenty go against them – it shows how tough they are and how much they want to win.
“A rest can work in their favour for sure.
“But the position they put themselves in is also the state of mind you need them in for Origin, and the more they can practise that … what wins you Origin is that mentality that got the Roosters to within a pass of winning their past two games. They fought so hard to get to that position.”
The Roosters lost Cooper Cronk and Latrell Mitchell from last year’s premiership-winning side, but the injury to Victor Radley was just as devastating for the premiers, according to Fittler. Radley broke down in round seven against St George Illawarra with a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament, the same season-ending injury teammate Sam Verrills suffered in the same game.
“Freddy Lussick did a really great job, and he’s a kid who will grow into his body, and Isaac Liu did a really good job, but that little bit of creativity around the middle they missed with Victor,” Fittler said.
“Victor also takes a bit of pressure off Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and those blokes when it comes to the aggression. He was there for two grand finals. He’s a beast. Even against Canberra, they couldn’t quite get their game on for a while. You saw it when Sonny [Bill Williams] came on and he was willing to pass through the middle and put the pressure on. Victor does that from the start.”
Cordner is the inspirational Blues skipper, Keary would have made his debut for NSW last year had it not been for a shocking concussion, Tedesco is the game’s best player, Crichton has been in excellent form and can play on an edge or in the middle, while Tupou is all but certain to earn a long-awaited recall to the wing, especially if the raps from Fittler in recent times are anything to go by.
Six players have already been included in Fittler’s train-on squad. They are Daniel Saifiti, Zac Lomax, Payne Haas, Tyson Frizell, Jake Trbojevic and Cameron McInnes.
Robinson was shattered after the 22-18 loss to the Raiders, saying: “We just couldn’t get everybody aligned. As a coach … I just didn’t get it done, I didn’t get the players aligned enough to play their best footy and it’s really disappointing.
“Your season ends. You dream, you dream big, and it’s not there.”
Christian covers rugby league for The Sydney Morning Herald.