Mitchell the fall guy as Blues boss Fittler makes sweeping changes for second Origin game
New South Wales Blues coach Brad Fittler said dropping star centre Latrell Mitchell for the crucial second State of Origin game was his toughest decision.
Mitchell marked his 22nd birthday on Sunday by scoring two tries for Sydney Roosters against Canterbury Bulldogs, but he failed to make the grade for the Origin trip to Perth.
He was sin-binned in the series-opening 18-14 defeat to Queensland Maroons in Brisbane, and a sub-par performance that day prompted Fittler to replace Mitchell and promote Jack Wighton from the bench.
Blues boss Fittler announced seven personnel changes for the June 23 game, but it was leaving out Mitchell that caught the eye.
"That's the hardest thing I've had to do," Fittler said.
"The great thing was he scored a couple of tries today. I just hope he gets his smile back and his swagger."
Asked about the reason behind leaving out Mitchell, Fittler said: "The biggest one was we had expectations up at Suncorp [Stadium] and he made sure he didn't meet those expectations.
"We really need our players to work hard for each other and at the end of the day Queensland wanted it more than us, which is a bit of a shame, and I suppose [dropping] Latrell is a bit of a consequence of that.
"It was nothing to do with anything off the field, it was purely on the field."
Fittler added in a press conference: "We need to make it happen and I've picked players I know are going to go over and make it happen."
Josh Morris also misses out in the centres as Tom Trbojevic comes in, with Dale Finucane, Daniel Saifiti, James Maloney, Tariq Sims, Wade Graham and Blake Ferguson the other players brought into the revamped squad.
Queensland are without the injured Joe Ofahengaue and Jai Arrow, leading coach Kevin Walters to summon Jarrod Wallace and Tim Glasby for the Perth game.
Both will begin on the bench for the Maroons, with Dylan Napa promoted from the replacements to take the spot of the absent Arrow in the front row.
State of Origin II squads:
New South Wales Blues: James Tedesco, Blake Ferguson, Tom Trbojevic, Jack Wighton, Josh Addo-Carr, James Maloney, Nathan Cleary, Daniel Saifiti, Damien Cook, Paul Vaughan, Boyd Cordner (captain), Tyson Frizell, Jake Trbojevic, Dale Finucane, Tariq Sims, Cameron Murray, Wade Graham.
Queensland Maroons: Kalyn Ponga, Corey Oates, Michael Morgan, Will Chambers, Dane Gagai, Cameron Munster, Daly Cherry-Evans (captain), Dylan Napa, Ben Hunt, Josh Papalii, Felise Kaufusi, Matt Gillett, Josh McGuire, Moses Mbye, Jarrod Wallace, Tim Glasby, David Fifita, Christian Welch, Edrick Lee, Corey Norman.