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Exclusive: Confronting question Fittler must ask his troops

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Brad Fittler’s selection overhaul for New South Wales’ must-win Perth encounter has left the Blues coach needing to ask his charges one burning question, according to Phil Gould.

The most successful NSW coach in State of Origin history has conjured some inspiration for Fittler as five men prepare to enter the battle for the first time in the series.

Bulldogs playmaker Matt Burton, Panthers hooker Apisai Koroisau, Sea Eagles workhorse Jake Trbojevic, Roosters gun Angus Crichton and Sharks beast Siosifa Talakai will all slip on Blues jumpers on Sunday night.

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In additional adjustments to the NSW side that lost 16-10 to Queensland in game one in Sydney, Penrith weapon Stephen Crichton will start in the centres, South Sydney star Cameron Murray will begin in the second row and Rabbitohs veteran Damien Cook will be catapulted off the bench.

Gould has imparted wisdom as the new-look team steels itself for the contest.

“Virtually … all Brad has to say is, ‘Have I picked the wrong blokes or the right blokes here?’,” Gould said on Wide World of Sports’ Six Tackles with Gus podcast.

“‘This is what’s at stake, this is what’s needed. Have I got the right blokes? I’ve entrusted you with this responsibility. It’s not an easy gig, it’s a tough gig. You’ve got to beat Queensland to keep the series alive. This is where it gets up in your throat and starts to strangle the oxygen. You’re in rarefied air here. There’s not many bigger challenges the game offers. But this is who I’ve entrusted to do it, this is who I’ve picked to do it’.”

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NSW is trailing 1-0 for the third time under the reign of Fittler, who replaced Laurie Daley as Blues coach in 2018.

The Blues were defeated in the 2019 opener but fought back to win the series, before losing game one of the 2020 edition but failing to recover.

“He’s been down this road many times before,” Gould said of Fittler.

“Both coaches have. They were both five-star players at this level of the game and played plenty of football. No one knows Origin better than Billy Slater and Brad Fittler from the player’s perspective, and Brad’s had a number of years in the coaching role now and has been in this position before.

Stream the NRL premiership 2022 live and free on 9Now.

Joey lauds Blues’ selection ‘masterstroke’

“I often say sometimes if you had to get someone to kick a goal to save your life, if you had to pick a team to save your life, who would you pick? I just get the feeling that that’s what Brad’s done here. He just knows that NSW need to win this game.

“He’s said, ‘OK, let’s rethink this … this is what I want. This is what I want to save NSW’s series’.

“This is for the people of NSW and all the fans and for the Origin series itself and for Brad, as well.

“If I had to pick a team to win a game this is the one I’ve picked.”

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Exclusive: Kyrgios laughs off wardrobe questions after win – TalkOfNews.com

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Nick Kyrgios has laughed off questions regarding his on-court attire, as he opted to change his shoes and hat before taking a post-match interview following his gutsy performance in the fourth round.

Kyrgios’ detractors were desperate for something, anything, to take the shine off his impressive five-set win, where he battled a shoulder ailment throughout, receiving treatment several times.

But if his win over Stefanos Tsitsipas was a ‘circus’, as the vanquished Greek proposed it was, this was anything but.

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Save for a couple of words with the chair umpire late in the contest, Kyrgios was focused, and almost reserved at times.

Few sports stars are as polarising – and when Kyrgios switched his hat and shoes for a red Jordan brand cap and some matching sneakers, it gave his critics – of which there were fewer than his last match, for obvious reasons – the ammunition they needed.

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On commentary, Aussie legend Todd Woodbridge said that his countryman “might receive a letter in his locker” about the hat and shoe change.

The 27-year-old’s post-win press conference was nothing like the combative environment that it was two days ago, right until the very end.

A reporter posed the idea that Kyrgios invites his own controversy, including an open flaunting of clear wardrobe rules.

“Why then would you walk on to centre court with bright red trainers on and do an interview in a red cap?” Kyrgios was asked.

The reply was typically Kyrgios.

“Because I do what I want,” he responded, before being pressed on whether or not he thought he was above the rules.

“No. I’m not above the rules. I just like wearing my Jordans.”

The line of questioning continued despite a moderator’s attempted intervention, when Kyrgios was quick to correct the journalist that he hadn’t ‘moaned’ about controversy.

“I haven’t moaned. I love it,” he said.

“Yeah, it’s just more attention for me. What’s that saying? Any publicity is good publicity, right?

“Keep doing you then champion,” he said to the question asker before moving on.

Kyrgios will get a day off before facing Chile’s Cristian Garin for a spot in the final four.

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Exclusive: The squad regroups – TalkOfNews.com

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Erik ten Hag was afforded a first opportunity to work with a number of returning Reds at Carrington on Monday.

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Exclusive: De Minaur bundled out of Wimbledon in classic – TalkOfNews.com

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Cristian Garin came from two sets down and saved two match points in the fifth before beating Alex de Minaur to reach his first grand slam quarter-final at Wimbledon.

The unseeded Chilean trailed 5-3 in the first-to-10 fifth-set tiebreaker before winning six straight points to take a 9-5 lead.

He then converted his second match point to advance 2-6, 5-7, 7-6 (3), 6-4, 7-6 (6) on Court No.2 after four hours and 34 minutes.

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Garin is the first Chilean man to reach a Grand Slam quarterfinal since Fernando Gonzales in 2009.

The 19th-seeded de Minaur had never lost a set against Garin in three previous meetings and looked set to maintain that streak when he led 3-1 in the third-set tiebreaker. The Australian then held two match points at 5-4 in the fifth.

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