Brad Fittler

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Brad Fittler
Brad 'Freddie' Fittler at the Canungra Hotel in March 2013.jpg
Fittler in 2013
Personal information
Full name Bradley Scott Fittler
Nickname Freddy
Born (1972-02-05) 5 February 1972 (age 43)
Auburn, New South Wales, Australia
Playing information
Height 186 cm (6 ft 1 in)[1]
Weight 96 kg (15 st 2 lb)[1]
Position Five-eighth, Centre, Lock
Club
Years Team Pld T G FG P
1989–95 Penrith Panthers 119 31 5 2 136
1996–04 Sydney Roosters 217 91 9 8 390
Total 336 122 14 10 526
Representative
Years Team Pld T G FG P
1991–97 City Origin 7 1 0 0 4
1990–04 New South Wales 31 8 0 2 34
1990–01 Australia 40 17 1 1 71
Coaching information
Club
Years Team Gms W D L W%
2007–09 Sydney Roosters 58 25 1 32 43
Representative
Years Team Gms W D L W%
2010–13 City Origin 5 1 1 3 20
Source: Rugby League Project

Bradley Scott "Freddy" Fittler (born 5 February 1972) is an Australian former professional rugby league footballer and coach who currently works as a commentator and as a television presenter. As a player, Fittler captained both New South Wales and Australia, and in 2000 was awarded the Golden Boot award. He retired as the most-capped New South Wales State of Origin player and third-most-capped Australian international player. Fittler has been named among the finest rugby league footballers of the first century of rugby league in Australia.[2] Fittler coached in the NRL for the Sydney Roosters between 2007 and 2009 and for the City New South Wales team in the City vs. Country clash frm 2010 to 2013. He also represented the Sydney Roosters in the 2014 Auckland Nines, and got one intercept try.

Early life[edit]

Fittler was born in Auburn, New South Wales, Australia.[citation needed] Fittler began playing junior rugby league for the Ashcroft Stallions and Mounties before moving to Cambridge Park. While attending Ashcroft High School, St Dominic's College then later, McCarthy Catholic Senior High School Emu Plains, Fittler played for the Australian Schoolboys team in 1988 and 1989.[3]

Playing career[edit]

Penrith Panthers[edit]

Brad Fittler's first grade career started in 1989 at the Penrith Panthers while he was still attending McCarthy Catholic Senior High School in the western suburbs of Sydney. Fittler earned a top 15 percent ranking in the NSW HSC in his final year of high school.[citation needed]

Fittler played in the centres in Penrith's 18-14 loss to the Canberra Raiders in the 1990 Grand Final and at the end of the season was selected for Australia and went on the 1990 Kangaroo tour of Great Britain and France. During the tour before the first test at the Wembley Stadium in London, the Kangaroos had met HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Fittler, only 18 at the time and the youngest ever Kangaroo Tourist, had reportedly broken protocol when meeting HRH by saying "G'day dude". Fittler did not play in a test on the tour, but played in 8 tour games and scored 8 tries.

The following year he was in the Panthers' premiership winning-side of 1991. Fittler played in the centres as Penrith, under the coaching of Phil Gould won their first ever premiership. At the end of the season he was selected for the Kangaroos tour of Papua New Guinea and made his test debut for Australia, playing at lock in Australia's two test series win against the Papua New Guinea Kumuls, scoring two tries on debut at the Lloyd Robson Oval in Port Moresby.

During the 1992 Great Britain Lions tour of Australia and New Zealand, he helped Australia retain The Ashes. Fittler, like the rest of the Penrith club, endured a tough 1992 season due to the death of his best mate, up-and-coming halfback/hooker Ben Alexander, the younger brother of Penrith captain Greg Alexander. Following Alexander's death in a car accident, Penrith's form dropped off in the second half of the season with the defending premiers finishing out of the finals in 9th place.

At the end of the 1992 season, Fittler was selected in Australia's World Cup Final team to play Great Britain at Wembley Stadium. In front of a then international record attendance of 73,631 the Australian's retained the Rugby League World Cup with a hard fought 10-6 win. During the first half, Fittler suffered a fractured cheekbone after being hit with an elbow from Lions hooker Martin Dermott who had gone into tackle the Australian Five-eighth with his elbow cocked. After being checked by team doctor Nathan Gibbs, Fittler continued playing and was one of the best in a winning side.

The 1993 NSWRL season again saw the Panthers struggle, finishing 12th with a 7-15 record for the year. Fittler played all three games for NSW in their 2-1 Origin series win over Queensland, before playing in all three mid-year tests against NZ with Australia winning the series 2-0 after the first test at the Mount Smart Stadium in Auckland ended in a 14-all draw thanks to a late field goal by stand in Australian captain Laurie Daley.

Penrith improved to a 10-10-2 record and an 8th place finish in the 1994 NSWRL season, despite the last season walk-out of Phil Gould (who was moving to coach the Sydney City Roosters after falling out with the Penrith club board) who was replaced with Fittler's 1991 premiership team mate Royce Simmons. During the year he was selected at lock for a test against France at Sydney's Parramatta Stadium (won 58-0 by Australia) and at the end of the season he was selected for his second Kangaroo Tour. Fittler played at lock in all four tests against Great Britain (3) and France (1) on the tour, winning man of the match in Australia's 38-8 win in the second test at Old Trafford in Manchester to keep the Ashes series alive. The Kangaroos went on to win the third test 23-4 to retain the Ashes before demolishing France with a world record 74-0 win in Béziers. Fittler played in 12 games on tour (one as a replacement), scoring two tries.

By 1995 Fittler was the world's highest-paid rugby league player, reportedly earning $1.05 million for the season.[4] This was during the period of the Super League war when player payments rose to previously unheard of levels as both the Australian Rugby League (ARL), backed by media billionaire Kerry Packer, and the rebel Super League (SL), backed by News Ltd., signed up players for (in some cases) double or triple their previous contracts. Fittler signed with the Australian Rugby League.

With the ARL refusing to select SL aligned players for representative football, Fittler was given the captaincy of the NSW Origin team for the 1995 State of Origin series against Queensland. Coached by rookie coach Paul Vautin, and with a bunch of untried players thanks to not being able to call upon their usual Origin and test stars (mostly from the SL aligned Brisbane Broncos), Qld were not given any chance of defeating the Blues (who could still call on a number of experienced Origin and test players), but came away with an astonishing 3-0 whitewash for their first series win since 1991. However despite this, Fittler was given the Australian captaincy for the 3-test Trans-Tasman series against New Zealand making him Australia's youngest captain (23) since Reg Gasnier had first captained Australia in 1962. Fittler led the Kangaroos to a 3-0 sweep of the disappointing Kiwis, including winning man of the match in the 20-10 second test win at the Sydney Football Stadium.

At the end of the 1995 ARL season, Fittler was an automatic choice to captain Australia in the 1995 Rugby League World Cup. Although the Kangaroos suffered a shock 20-16 loss to England in the opening game of the tournament at Wembley, and had a nervous, 30-20 win over New Zealand in extra-time in the Semi-final in Huddersfield after scores had been locked at 20-all at the end of regulation time, Fittler would lead Australia to its 8th World Cup success (and 5th in a row) with an 18-8 win over England in front of 66,540 fans at Wembley. History allegedly repeated itself on the Wembley balcony as Fittler was heard to remark "Thanks dude" to Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex (the son of HRH Prince Philip) when receiving the Rugby League World Cup trophy.

Sydney Roosters[edit]

In 1996, he joined the Sydney Roosters where he played nine seasons, captaining them to the 2002 NRL Grand Final victory. Fittler retired as the second most experienced first grader, behind Terry Lamb (349), having played 336 games.

The Rothmans Medal for player of the 1997 ARL Premiership was awarded to Sydney City Roosters captain and five-eighth, Fittler.

He was selected for Kangaroo Tours in 1990, 1994 and 2001 and played in the World Cups of 1992, 1995 and 2000. Fittler was selected for the Australian team to compete in the end of season 1999 Rugby League Tri-Nations tournament. In the final against New Zealand he captained the Kangaroos at lock forward in their 22-20 victory. Early in his career Fittler struggled with discipline problems, but he matured into a fine leader. He captained Australia in 20 Tests, winning 17 and losing 3, and in a further 5 victories in the 2000 World Cup. He also captained NSW in 14 State of Origin matches, winning 8 and losing 6.

In club competition, Fittler captained the Roosters to the 2000 NRL Grand Final, their first in twenty seasons, a Premiership in 2002 and successive grand final appearances in 2003 and 2004, before retiring at the end of 2004. Having won the 2002 NRL Premiership, the Roosters traveled to England to play the 2003 World Club Challenge against Super League champions, St Helens RLFC. Fittler captained at five-eighth, scoring a try in Sydney's victory.

Two years after Fittler announced his retirement from representative football, NSW coach Phil Gould brought him back to State of Origin for the second and third game. Both he and Gould were farewelled in the last game at Telstra Stadium after he scored the winning try that sealed the NSW victory.

Fittler remains the youngest NSW State of Origin player (18 years 114 days) and was once the youngest Kangaroo representative (18 years 247 days) until Israel Folau made his debut in late 2007. Fittler played more total matches (409 combining club and representative games) than any other player.

As a tribute to Fittler's contribution to the NSW team, the Brad Fittler Medal is named in his honour, awarded to the best NSW player after each series victory by NSW. However, it is only awarded after NSW have won a series; and so was not awarded from 2005 till 2014, Queensland having won each series in the intervening years. In 2014 it was jointly awarded to Jarryd Hayne and Ryan Hoffman.

Auckland Nines[edit]

In February 2014, at 42 years of age, Fittler came out of retirement for a one-off showing at the NRL Auckland Nines.[5] Representing the Sydney Roosters, he made a tackle on prop forward Fui Fui Moi Moi in the loss to the Parramatta Eels, before clipping Ben Barba high in a tackle, and also scoring a 75-metre intercept try off a David Stagg pass in their win over the Brisbane Broncos, his first try in 10 years.[6]

Coaching career[edit]

On 9 July 2007, Roosters' coach Chris Anderson quit the club, just 48 hours after the team lost 56–0 to the Manly Sea Eagles, their second worst ever loss. Fittler took over the coaching from Round 18, in what was initially for a short term until the end of the 2007 season. The Roosters, who were sitting near the bottom of the competition and struggling with form, turned a corner with Fittler as coach as they went on to post some impressive wins. His first match was against his former mentor, Ricky Stuart coaching the Cronulla Sharks. The Roosters won the match 23–12. His second match was against the Newcastle Knights and again the team was successful 20–17.

On 27 July 2007, Fittler's coaching career took a massive leap. The Roosters side defeated the Melbourne Storm (front runners of the Premiership) 26–16, with the two late consolation tries to the Storm. Former Roosters coach, Phil Gould remarked after the Melbourne game "I've always had great confidence that "Freddie" would be successful at anything he turned his mind to. If he truly wants to be a coach, he'll be a bloody good one... I think in the end he was drawn to it and, to me, that's a coach. You don't wake up one day and say, 'I want to be a coach'. You are drawn to it. It compels you. I see and hear this in Freddie these days."[7] Melbourne ultimately went on to win the title, which was later stripped due to salary cap breaches.

Following the win over the Melbourne Storm, the Roosters went up against the New Zealand Warriors with the match resulting in the first draw since 2005 after a hard fought golden point period which ended with the score 31–31. The result was good enough to keep Fittler undefeated as coach.

That run was extended against the Wests Tigers on 10 August, with the second golden point game in a row for the club after a late field goal attempt from Braith Anasta hit the cross bar with 15 seconds to go. The game ended in a 26–22 win after Anasta broke the line and passed to Amos Roberts who then set up Joel Monaghan for the winning try.

Unfortunately, Fittler's winning streak as a coach was broken on 19 August 2007 when the Roosters played the Gold Coast Titans, losing 22–18. The following week, in the penulitmate round of the regular season, the Roosters lost to the eventual 2007 wooden spooners, the Penrith Panthers, 28–22.

On 21 August 2007, the Sydney Roosters signed Brad Fittler as their full-time Head Coach until the 2010 season.

On 20 June 2009, it was reported in the Townsville Bulletin that, a day earlier, a drunken Fittler had tried to gain access to the wrong hotel room while wearing only shorts. The incident occurred at the Holiday Inn in Townsville at 3am.[8] Fittler consequently fined himself A$$10,000 and apologised for his behaviour at a televised press conference.[9]

On 18 July 2009, following an ongoing season of unrelenting disappointment at the Roosters, the media was informed that in 2010 Brad Fittler would not be part of the coaching staff at the Sydney Roosters,[10] reportedly before he was.[11] Indeed, the Roosters took out the 2009 wooden spoon and a clean-out of the club began. He was replaced by Brian Smith, who took the Roosters to within a match of the premiership the following year, losing against the St. George Illawarra Dragons.

In 2010 Fittler was linked with a move to the London-based Super League side Harlequins, but this has not eventuated.[12]

Brad Fittler – NRL Coaching Results by Season[13]
NRL Team Year Games Wins Losses Draws Win %
Sydney Roosters 2007 8 5 2 1 63%
2008 26 15 11 0 58%
2009 24 5 19 0 21%
Career 58 25 32 1 43%

Media career[edit]

Fittler co-hosts NRL Deluxe, a streaming video show on Mondays and Thursdays available via Bigpond TV.[citation needed] A year after his retirement, in 2005, Fittler released his book, Freddy: The Brad Fittler Story. Brad has since starred in two Telstra Next G TV advertisements.[14] In 2010, Fittler joined the Nine Network commentary team.

Outside rugby league[edit]

In 2000 Fittler was awarded the Australian Sports Medal for his contribution to Australia's international standing in rugby league. He was named a Member (AM) of the Order of Australia in the 2006 Queen's Birthday Honours List.

In February 2008, Fittler was named in the list of Australia's 100 Greatest Players (1908–2007) which was commissioned by the NRL and ARL to celebrate the code's centenary year in Australia.[15]

Fittler has a longtime partner, Marie Liarris. They have two children together: a daughter, Demi, and a son, Zach.[citation needed] He also has an illegitimate son whom he fathered via a one-night stand in 1995, but Fittler has no plans to meet him.[16]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Brad Fittler". yahoo.com. Yahoo! 7 Sport. Retrieved 2 July 2014. 
  2. ^ Century's Top 100 Players
  3. ^ "SportingPulse Homepage for Australian Secondary Schools Rugby League". SportingPulse. Retrieved 10 October 2008. 
  4. ^ Ian, Thomsen (28 October 1995). "Australia Faces England at Wembley : A Final of Rugby Favorites". The New York Times (nytimes.com). Retrieved 5 November 2009. [dead link]
  5. ^ http://www.nrl.com/fittler-says-hell-make-roosters-comeback/tabid/10874/newsid/75837/default.aspx
  6. ^ http://www.nrl.com/fittler-and-menzies-thrive-at-nines/tabid/10874/newsid/76283/default.aspx
  7. ^ "Don't be fooled by that boyish charm". Fairfax Digital. 29 July 2007. Retrieved 22 November 2007. [dead link]
  8. ^ "Brad Fittler in 3am hotel shame". Townsville Bulletin. 20 June 2009. Retrieved 20 June 2009. 
  9. ^ "Sydney Roosters coach Brad Fittler fines himself $10 000". Fox Sports News (Australia). 20 June 2009. Retrieved 20 June 2009. [dead link]
  10. ^ "Dumped Fittler to be replaced by Smith". 'ABC Sport'. 18 July 2009. Retrieved 18 July 2009. 
  11. ^ "A new Ossie ostrich". The Sunday Telegraph (Australia: Herald and Weekly Times). 11 April 2010. Retrieved 2010-07-03. 
  12. ^ . 'Press Association'. 6 April 2010 http://www.google.com/hostednews/ukpress/article/ALeqM5iXQJaN3-hgzdtY2xmDWCz9XX4cZw. Retrieved 6 April 2010.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  13. ^ "Rugby League Tables". Retrieved 22 June 2009. 
  14. ^ available for viewing on his website http://www.brad-fittler.com
  15. ^ "Centenary of Rugby League – The Players". NRL & ARL. 23 February 2008. Retrieved 23 February 2008. 
  16. ^ "Fittler's secret". The Sunday Telegraph. 28 August 2011. Retrieved 28 August 2011. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Laurie Daley
Australian national rugby league captain
1995-2001
Succeeded by
Paul Harragon
Preceded by
Chris Anderson
Sydney Roosters coach
2007-2009
Succeeded by
Brian Smith