Wild conspiracy theories or left-field Brad Fittler tactics? Social media sleuths say they’ve figured out why one top NRL club is being favoured by the Blues – and another has been left in the cold
- A record nine North Queensland Cowboys players were picked for Origin III
- That included three players called into the NSW Blues’ squad for the first time
- Meanwhile Parramatta stars have been left stunned by their non-selection
- Plenty of conspiracy theories have been put out there, are they on the money?
Brad Fittler has never been afraid to make bold calls when it comes to Origin selection, but plenty of questions are being asked after he picked a record three Cowboys players while shunning two Parramatta stars.
North Queensland has been the surprise package of the 2022 NRL season and the club has been rewarded with a record nine players being selected for the State of Origin decider at Suncorp Stadium next Wednesday.
That includes an unprecedented three Cowboys in the NSW squad, including hooker Reece Robson, halfback and co-captain Chad Townsend and prop Jordan McLean – although the latter has now been scratched with a hamstring injury.
Townsend (pictured in 2016) has come close to Origin selection before and has earned another spot in the squad for the decider in Brisbane. He will only play if there is an injury
Their selection came at the expense of Parramatta’s Origin players Mitch Moses and Reagan Campbell-Gillard.
And now the conspiracy theories are flying.
Some Cowboys fans are worried their Origin stars will get injured ahead of the run to the finals.
‘Is there anyone left from the Cowboys to play SOO. Or are they secretly trying to injure all the Cowboys in one foul swoop to knock them off the ladder,’ one posted.
‘Please don’t break him with Freddy’s weird training,’ said another.
Cowboys fans think they have cracked the code on why Fittler picked so many of their players
But another group has an entirely different theory that Fittler is trying to pick the brains of the Cowboys players to gain valuable insight into the tactics used by North Queensland and consequently, the Maroons.
‘Do we think it’s also an information gathering exercise for Origin?’ one fan asked.
‘My conspiracy theory is Freddy [Fittler] is going to elicit some of the Cowboys secrets, since half of the Queenslanders come from the Cowboys,’ posted another.
While the Cowboys are riding high in second place on the NRL ladder and celebrating record State of Origin representation, the same cannot be said for another top-eight side.
The Eels appear to have been struck off Fittler’s Christmas card list and many fans were left stunned that Cowboys Townsend and McLean were selected ahead of former Origin players Moses and Reagan Campbell-Gillard.
Some fans have speculated that Fittler is wary of the Eels’ erratic performances in 2022, which is why the star duo have been left out.
Fittler is no stranger to swinging the axe and making left-field selections to get the job done
However, Campbell-Gillard might be involved in a conspiracy theory of his own.
The rampaging prop played 114 games for Penrith before moving to Parramatta in 2020.
He revealed that he didn’t leave the foot of the mountains under the best of circumstances in 2020, saying that he ‘didn’t care’ in his final days at the Panthers.
Campbell-Gillard has been one of the best props in the NRL this year but was dropped from the Blues after their game I loss in Sydney
Now SEN’s Michelle Bishop believes those words have come back to bite him, with Blues skipper Nathan Cleary and a host of other Panthers players potentially blocking his path back to Origin.
‘If my memory serves me correctly there was an interview done, he probably didn’t think about the consequences of the interview as he moved on and had a fresh start,’ she said.
‘But it was along the likes of, ‘I just got tired, I didn’t want to play there anymore’, it was about attitude.
‘Those comments … maybe it did annoy a couple of the guys.’