Brad Fittler has had an open letter of apology from Phil Rothfield.
Brad Fittler has had an open letter of apology from Phil Rothfield.

Buzz: Open apology for Freddy’s ultimate vindication

A week ago we thought Brad Fittler was mad after he took the axe to a Blues team that narrowly lost Game 1. But, after Perth's stunning turnaround, PHIL ROTHFIELD has penned an apology letter.

A week ago we were all bagging the Blues coach for his lack of loyalty and seven team changes.

We're sorry.

You go through all seven changes: Jimmy Maloney came in for Cody Walker.

James Maloney (L) was sensational after being recalled by the Blues. Picture: AAP
James Maloney (L) was sensational after being recalled by the Blues. Picture: AAP

He came up with a 40-20 and a beautiful pass to put Tyson Frizell over in the first half. He was magnificent throughout.

Freddy also went for Tom Trbojevic instead of old and reliable Josh Morris.

It worked a treat. Turbo scored the first try in the ninth minute from a Maloney bomb, outjumping former AFL junior Kalyn Ponga.

The take would have done a West Coast Eagles ruckman proud at this arena.

It was one of those big effort plays that was missing from the Blues side in Origin I.

Turbo scored again in the first half, backing up James Tedesco. And for a third time in the 53rd minute and the Blues surged to an unassailable position.

 

Tom Trbojevic missed Game 1 through injury — and scored a hat-trick in Perth. Picture: Getty
Tom Trbojevic missed Game 1 through injury — and scored a hat-trick in Perth. Picture: Getty

Knights prop Daniel Saifiti was a highly controversial call to replace injured Dave Klemmer.

It worked too. He was outstanding in the opening exchanges and put in a huge surge in the play before Tyson Frizell scored for NSW in the first half.

Freddy also stuck with Nathan Cleary when most of us wanted him out.

In the third minute, the Panthers halfback put a great hit on Felise Kaufusi to jolt the ball loose. It was a huge play to get early field position, dominance and confidence.

Jack Wighton took Latrell Mitchell's spot at left centre. He might have cost NSW a penalty try but was strong and willing throughout.

The same with Blake Ferguson who came in on the wing for Nick Cotric.

Even Blake Ferguson (C) had a big impact for the Blues, despite an early fumble. Picture: Getty
Even Blake Ferguson (C) had a big impact for the Blues, despite an early fumble. Picture: Getty

Other new faces Dale Finucane, Tariq Sims and Wade Graham did everything asked of them.

The biggest change for NSW was the team's resolve and attitude.

Even with the game over as Dane Gagai looked like scoring for the Maroons, there were four Blues defenders who swamped him.

Maloney is just a freakish big-game player.

I went to my notebook to check on a conversation I had with Jimmy three weeks ago after he was overlooked for game one.

"There is a part of me hoping I don't get picked later in the series," he said.

"Because that means the Blues are winning and they stick with the same side.

"I've been a Blues supporter since I was a kid and nothing's changed. I want them to win.

"I'm not saying it doesn't hurt a bit to miss out but that's the way it goes."

 

James Maloney lives and breathes for the big games. Picture: AAP
James Maloney lives and breathes for the big games. Picture: AAP

It was a huge result for the game that NSW won.

Even parochial Queenslander Peter Beattie was quietly cheering for the Blues.

A live game in Sydney is worth millions more to the NRL than a dead rubber.

"We need the money," he said, "And the Maroons can always win it in Sydney."

There was none of that with the Prime Minister Scott Morrison. He was proudly wearing his NSW scarf at the official function.

Queensland might have won him the election but he's a desperate Blues fan.

Channel 9 Sports boss Tom Malone punched the air: "You beauty - we've got a decider."

Around the venue the Maroons had the most support. It looked about 60/40 from the jersey colours in the stands. But in the end the Blues won comfortably. They were by far the better side.

Freddy sure got this one right.