Discarded Sydney Roosters coach Brad Fittler has lit the fuse for an explosive clash with Newcastle this weekend by accusing his successor, Knights coach Brian Smith, of sacrificing last Friday’s game against Manly to ensure an ego-boosting result against the tricolours.
Fittler made the stunning claim in the latest edition of Rugby League Week, contending that Smith was more worried about getting one up on him this Saturday than putting the best possible side on the field in Gosford.
‘‘I am convinced he sacrificed a possible win against Manly by resting [Jarrod] Mullen and [Kurt] Gidley and I expect them to be back against us and 100 per cent,’’ Fittler said.
‘‘I also noted his manner in the dressing room at half-time. He was just walking around speaking very calmly. He wasn’t laying down the law to his players or waving his arms.
‘‘For such a big game, that surprised me. I think this week is obviously important to him because the critics will hammer him if we beat them.’’
Smith denied the claims, saying: ‘‘We are not in a position to be resting blokes and that’s not the way I operate.
Fittler has tried to motivate his players for the clash, saying Smith’s reputation for clearing deadwood from his squads should serve as a warning to some of the Roosters underperforming stars, including Willie Mason.
‘‘Hopefully the players see it as a real chance to show Brian, given what he did at Newcastle a few years prior with a big clean-out of certain players,’’ Fittler said yesterday. ‘‘Hopefully Willie can show Brian something this week, to show that he wants to be at the club.’’
But Mason said he had nothing to prove and challenged his teammates to avoid the Roosters first wooden spoon since 1966.
‘‘We’ve probably got a point to prove to all our fans and all the boys, just to rip in, that’s about it,’’ Mason said. ‘‘It does suck, trying to play not to get the wooden spoon. I’ve never really been in that position before.
‘‘It’s something that you really don’t want to be stuck with.’’
Mason said regardless of whether he is or isn’t at the Roosters next season, he believes the arrival of Smith to the club will be a good move.
‘‘I don’t really read too much in the papers and stuff,’’ Mason said. ‘‘I know what’s happening next year, no one else does. He’s [Smith] a good coach, been around for ages. He’ll be good for the club and I’m looking forward to it.’’
What planet is Fittler on? Surely he can’t actually believe this!!
Like a team that is in the running for a top 4 position would throw a game, just so they can beat the wooden spoon team the next week, so they can embarrass the departing coach of that wooden spoon team???
And to think this guy is one of the greats of the game and is a first grade coach!!
But then again… He works for Telstra too
Im wonderin what Willie is thinking, he dogged the Bulldogs just so he could play under Fittler… After 2 seasons he’ll be under Brian Smith instead who does care about clearing the deadwood.