Andrew Johns finally announces Origin future
AFTER much speculation in the days following Origin III, Andrew Johns has finally given a firm answer on whether he is interested in taking on the role as head coach of New South Wales.
Johns' has stated his lack of interest in the past, but seemed to be wavering when asked again during Nine's coverage of game three on Wednesday night.
Since the match, and Blues' series defeat, several high profile league identities have earmarked Johns as the ideal replacement for New South Wales coach Laurie Daley, should he step down. But on Sunday, Johns gave a clear statement, and it wasn't good news for Blues fans.
New South Wales adviser Peter Sterling asked Johns whether he was available and the former Blues half shot down the speculation with a single word.
"No ... not as a head coach," Johns replied. "Definitely not, no."
"No, I see what it does, especially this series, what it does to Laurie Daley," Johns said.
"I don't need that in my life."
Johns left the door slightly ajar to have some involvement in the State of Origin series however, if only in a consultancy type role.
"I haven't given it much thought, I love the state that much, I love the jersey - I would certainly give it some consideration," Johns said.
Johns did endorse fellow Nine commentator and Blues legend Brad Fittler for the role, but only if Laurie Daley decides to vacate his post as Blues' boss.
"I think out of respect for Laurie, we're all speculating, I think it's up to Laurie whether he continues or not.
"If Laurie was not to continue, I think Brad Fittler had served his apprenticeship with City-Country. He's had great success with the City team and he'd be ready to step in."
Fittler was questioned on reports linking him to the post earlier in the day on Nine's Sports Sunday program.
But the former New South Wales captain would not comment on any potential interest in taking over, out of respect for his ex-teammate.
"There's no job at the moment," Fittler said.
"Given I'm a really good friend of Laurie Daley and with all due respect, no comment until Laurie or the league decides to go down another path. At the moment there's no job.
It didn't stop Fittler from giving a scathing assessment of New South Wales Origin performances in recent times though.
Fittler said certain players in the Blues squad clearly are not equipped to handle the expectation and scrutiny that comes with the Origin cauldron.
"We didn't handle the pressure at all," Fittler told Nine's Sport Sunday.
"We didn't handle the pressure of game two when the scoreboard came into play. We didn't handle pressure in game three. When you start to look at pressure, we either weren't physically and mentally up to it with that crew or there are some people there that didn't help."
"It's the biggest stage. Not everyone is prepared for that stage. When you're playing against Queensland, up there, with an under strength team you're expected to win.
"That is a lot to absorb sometimes for people who aren't up to it."
With New South Wales having won just one series out of the last 12, but it is Queensland who used the most new faces this campaign.
The new faces starred in the Origin arena, something that the Maroons continue to seem to be able to do. Fittler says it all comes back to leadership, something the Blues lack according to the league legend.
"One of the biggest things with New South Wales over the last decade I think is Queensland's best players have been their leaders and they've been their best players in the competition," Fittler said.
"While New South Wales best players most probably aren't our leaders, which makes it hard some times."
Fittler says New South Wales players who want to form part of the Origin side in future years must start becoming leaders and put their hand up to remain part of the Blues set up.
"It's 12 months away. If the players decide they want to be part of that group, it's a good time to start now, showing those particular traits on the field, off the field, all the way through," Fittler said.
"It's not just going to pop up in May next year and go OK 'you're a leader, start acting like a leader'.
"They need to start training like that now."