Fittler brings in Gasnier to tutor backline rookies
FORMER NSW great Mark Gasnier was drafted into the Blues camp by coach Brad Fittler in a bid to quell the nerves of NSW’s rookie backline.
Gasnier was called in on Wednesday night to deliver a secret talk to the debutant outside backs in Josh Addo-Carr, Latrell Mitchell, Tom Trbojevic and James Roberts, to help the quartet prepare for what is to come in their Origin debuts.
The rookies listened as Gasnier, who was the game’s best centre during the 2000s when he played 12 games for the Blues, gave them an insight into areas he said took him “eight or nine years to learn”.
“I spoke to them about not over complicating things and some things that helped me in my career, that I wish I learnt a lot earlier,” Gasnier said.
“Key little areas I thought may improve their decisionmaking. I emphasised the point that they were by no means bad defenders or making bad decisions, but they weren’t being the best defenders they can be.
“They were making the mistakes that I made. I was a poor defender when I first started and got into a lot of bad habits. If I’d learnt more earlier I would’ve got better quicker.”
Mitchell said he learnt plenty from the half-hour talk.
“He spoke to me about my movements in defence,” he said.
“Early movements, getting set and getting up and being aggressive. For him to come in and say what he said gave me a lot of confidence.”
Gasnier wanted Mitchell and Roberts picked as the Blues centres. It will be the first time NSW have fielded a debut centre pairing since Gasnier played alongside Dragons teammate Matt Cooper in what would be Fittler’s final Origin game in 2004.
“I love them,” Gasnier said. “I still don’t think they’ve fulfilled their potential. It’s the start of something exciting for them.”
Tom Trbojevic at Blues training in Coogee, and (inset) Mark Gasnier in Origin action in 2008.