On the surface, Gould’s claim that the Blues are in “transition” seems questionable, given Fittler’s men have won two out of the last three Origin series, but the NSW squad for Game 1 sees five first-time selections.
The legendary Blues coach pointed to Queensland’s experienced halves duo of Daly Cherry-Evans and Cameron Munster and their ability to remain composed in last year’s deciding Game Three, warning that the same could happen this year.
“They kept warning you that the difference in this game could come down to game management at important stages,” Gould told Wide World of Sports’ Six Tackles With Gus.
“Cherry-Evans and Munster have enough experience under their belt and the personality that nothing would stand in their way to get the job done, and that’s how it turned out.”
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“It’s not dissimilar right now either. You’ve got the great experience and now winning experience of that combination up against a NSW team that I would have to say is in transition.”
Despite a number of the first-time Blues enjoying prolific seasons at the club level, Gould warned that Origin would bring a totally new level of intensity.
“We’ve obviously got a lot of rookies in the side now and young blokes who deserve to be there,” he said.
“They’ve been picked on form and they thoroughly deserve to be there, but this is another level again, particularly on the club football we’ve been playing the last 18 months.
“Club football hasn’t been all that strong in the last 18 months, Origin is going to be a real shock to a lot of these players, and even to the ones that have been there before.
“This’ll be at a frantic pace and a different type of physicality, provided it’s allowed to be refereed that way, but this is a totally different environment and a totally different game.
“They’ll get better the further they go, so having picked the rookies on this occasion, I hope that it’s in Brad Fittler’s plan to stick with them right through the series because they’ll keep improving the further this series goes.”