Gus: Real reason Klemmer snubbed
RUGBY league icon Phil Gould says Brad Fittler is playing a "bigger game" by overlooking rampaging forward David Klemmer for the State of Origin series decider.
Klemmer will find out his fate on Tuesday night after Fittler confirmed his possible inclusion into the NSW team for Game 3 rests exclusively on Tariq Sims' judiciary hearing.
Sims has to beat a grade-two dangerous contact charge for his late, high hit on Michael Morgan to avoid being suspended for the ANZ Stadium blockbuster next Wednesday.
Having been the best forward on the park in Game 1, Klemmer's inclusion was widely expected to be a formality when Fittler announced his team on Monday - but he dropped a bomb by sticking with Klemmer's Knights teammate Daniel Saifiti as a starting front-rower.
Fittler said on Monday night his decision to ignore Klemmer's form was motivated purely by his desire to want to reward the players who did the job for him in Game 2.
However, Gould revealed on Monday night's 100% Footy on Channel 9, that there is some deep thinking behind Fittler's decision.
"I think there's a bigger game here too," Gould said.
"When you look at what happened between Game 1 and Game 2 when they failed and the number of changes he made (before Game 2) and then sticking by these fall as now to do the job (in Game 3) - he's got a very young squad but he's got a lot of options now.
"There are a lot of people available now. Far more than Queensland. It's going to look very good for the future and he's drawn a line in the sand which says it's really hard to get into this team. And if you get in it, you have to do really well or I'll find somebody else. If you don't give 100 per cent I'll find somebody else who will. That's what he's saying to all players and I think that's a really good line in the sand message to be sending to players.
"I don't think Sims will get off and I think Klemmer will come onto the bench and everyone's going to get their game, but I think selectors have done a brilliant job of putting a real value on this jersey."
Former NSW captain Paul Gallen also said he was "stunned at Klemmer's omission.
"I feel sorry for Klemmer," he said.
"I personally feel Klemmer had done enough in his Origin career that he should have been there, but that's Freddy's decision."
Should Sims win his case on Tuesday night, Klemmer will be a glaring absence at ANZ Stadium on July 10.
"It was a tough one because we love Klem," Fittler admitted.
"We love what he's about. It's one of those discussions that was hard but he made it easy.
"His reaction was so refreshing. He just wished Tariq all the best. He said if he got the opportunity, he'd absolutely love coming into camp again.
"That's why he's a valued member of any team he plays for, because he just loves what rugby league's about and he understands team."
Klemmer was arguably the Blues' best forward in game one, carrying the ball for 147 metres and creating a line break despite breaking his wrist early in the game.
His first stint was so good that Fittler played him for 50 minutes straight, however was controversially left on the bench for the rest of the contest.
The Newcastle prop proved near unstoppable in his return against Brisbane last Saturday, when he made a game-high 210 metres and 34 tackles. Yet Fittler has opted to stay loyal to the side that pumped Queensland in Perth, including Klemmer's Knights teammate in Daniel Saifiti.
"He did a really good job for us. He has a specific role and he was absolutely perfect in what he did," Fittler said.
"And then he went and did a really good job against Brisbane, against the big forward pack, and backed it up well. I found it very hard to swap it over.
"(It was) purely just the way they did it over there (in Perth). The way they worked together. The way they worked for each other, was the indicator."