Fittler an “obvious candidate” for NSWRL

Brad Fittler’s experience in NSW’s junior coaching ranks makes him an “obvious candidate” for the Blues’ State of Origin role, according to NSW Rugby League chief executive David Trodden.

The NSWRL will work to compile a shortlist of replacements for Laurie Daley over the next month, with the aim to meet with likely candidates and a appoint a new coach before Christmas.

Trodden revealed Fittler, who is the Blues under-16s and under-18s coach, had expressed an interest in assuming the role.

And while he didn’t want to rule in or out any potential candidates, he spoke glowingly of the man tipped to take the position.

“Freddie (Fittler) has certainly expressed an interest and he’s one of the guys the board will give strong consideration to given his playing record and the fact he’s been in our coaching system for a while now,” Trodden told AAP.

“So he’s an obvious candidate.”

Fittler has also followed a similar path to former Country Origin coach Daley before his appointment to the Blues top role in 2012.

After he played 31 games for the Blues between 1990 and 2004, Fittler has also coached the NSW City Origin side for the past six years.

Fellow Blues junior coach Danny Buderus has ruled himself out of contention, while former under-20s mentor Dean Pay would become unavailable if he is offered the Canterbury job.

That decision was made on Friday, when the NSWRL board determined it would stick with the approach of not appointing NRL coaches to the position.

It means former coaches Ricky Stuart and Craig Bellamy won’t be considered, and neither would Shane Flanagan, who is a former assistant for the Blues.

“I think the board came to a view that the conflict of interest issue was just too big for coaches as well as players,” Trodden said.

“If you have a coach with an NRL club affiliation, who then has to make selection decisions potentially on a player of his own, that puts the coach in a difficult position and the player in a difficult position as well.

“And so for that reason it’s probably desirable that we avoid that issue and have someone without an NRL club affiliation.”

It leaves Fittler as a contender alongside the likes of Geoff Toovey and NSW Country Origin coach Craig Fitzgibbon, who would have have to step aside as a Sydney Roosters assistant if he was to take on the role.

“There are plenty of really capable guys who don’t have NRL clubs at the moment,” Trodden said.

“I’m sure we will get a really high-quality appointment.”

Fittler has yet to confirm his interest in the role, but has spoken positively about the possibility of taking over from Daley when quizzed about the position.

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