“Be great every week.”
Victorious NSW State of Origin coach Brad Fittler has challenged his Blues side to go back to their respective clubs and continue to improve after the disappointment of losing Wednesday night’s third game 18-12 at Suncorp Stadium.
Fittler said looking back fondly on the 2018 series win was tough in the aftermath of the game three defeat, and instead of being overly glowing of his players, the out-of-the-box coach instead issued a task to his Blues players ahead of 2019.
“We’ve got to keep getting better,” Fittler told the post-match media conference.
“It’s hard at the moment ... losing stinks, but they did really well to come together.
“There’s a lot of young blokes, they’re all fresh to this arena, they did really well, but they have to find ways to improve, get tougher mentally and fitter if they can.”
NSW was forced to do a monumental amount of tackling during the first half of the third game but incredibly led 12-8 over the hosts after a 90-metre intercept try to Tom Trobojevic and a James Tedesco four-pointer right before the break.
But the weight of making 216 first half tackles compared to 130 by the Maroons eventually told on the Blues, and on the back of a stunning return to the origin scene by Daly Cherry-Evans, Queensland emerged victorious to send retiring fullback Billy Slater out a winner.
Wellington product Tyrone Peachey was injected into the frame late in the second half and looked lively with the ball while Orange-born five-eighth James Maloney spent 10 minutes in the sin bin during NSW’s resolute first period.
Captain of the last NSW side to win a series 3-0 back in 2000, Fittler said the sin-binning of the St Joseph’s Sheahan junior was fair.
But the Blues did have their backs to the wall for the majority of the 80 minutes.
“They were brave, a lot went against them. It was pretty tough for them. To hang in there like we did … really proud of them,” he said.
“We didn’t win any 50-50s at all, but to win 3-0 you have to do some special things and overcome adversity.
“At half-time we were all pretty nervous that they were going to run out of energy at some stage.
“Our first set (after the break) was great and then we went away from that. The ball went to ground a few times but that was more fatigue.”