Fittler refuses to blow up over Slater's farewell gongs
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Fittler refuses to blow up over Slater's farewell gongs

Brad Fittler can live with the controversial call to hand Billy Slater man of the series honours, but believes the gong was reward for his greater contribution to the State of Origin arena.

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Slater became the first player in a losing series earn the award, sparking an outcry on social media. The Queensland captain was also judged by Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga and national selectors Laurie Daley and Darren Lockyer as best afield in what was his last Origin clash.

Recalled halfback Daly Cherry-Evans pressed his claims for MOM honours in a commanding display at Suncorp Stadium. Save for one grubber kick which went dead-in-goal, the Manly skipper submitted a performance that was almost flawless otherwise.

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NSW trio Damien Cook, Boyd Cordner and Jake and Tom Trbojevic also performed strongly in all three matches and were unlucky to be overlooked for player of the series honours.

“I can live with the fact Billy takes the medal away, he’s been one of the great State of Origin players,” Fittler said.

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“I don’t know if it was for the two games he played in this series. I dunno, there’s a few players in my team I would have chosen ahead of Billy in this series. But the fact he’s been a brilliant player for the sport, for State of Origin, I can live with him taking away the medal.

“It was for more than for this series.”

Asked who he would have given the Wally Lewis medal to, Fittler said: “Tom Trbojevic was pretty outstanding across the three games, he would have been my pick.”

NSW captain Boyd Cordner said he would have opted for Tom Trbojevic or James Tedesco as his player of the series, but Fittler shot down further questions about the controversy.

Even the man of the moment, Billy Slater, conceded he was taken aback by the twin honours.

“A little bit,” Slater said. “I only played two games. It was a bit surprising.”

The Blues lifted the shield in front of an almost empty Suncorp Stadium, reigniting the debate over whether it should have been awarded as soon as the series was decided.

“We would have liked to do it after a win but it’s natural to feel like that because it’s straight after a loss,” Cordner said.

“We need to realise how hard we’ve worked to win the series.

Billy GOAT: Billy Slater of the Maroons is chaired from the field after his final Origin game.

Billy GOAT: Billy Slater of the Maroons is chaired from the field after his final Origin game.Credit:Dave Hunt

“It did dampen it a bit but I’m still happy to be a series-winning captain.”

Fittler accepted the decision to sin bin James Maloney for a professional foul as fair.

“I can live with that,” Fittler said.

“His first action was fair and then he put his arm out. I can live with the sin bin.”

Adrian Proszenko is the Chief Rugby League Reporter for the Sydney Morning Herald.

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