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Pangai's love for maroon shows why NSW need Mitchell back in blue

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The difference between winning and losing on Sunday night for Brad Fittler is light years apart.

Lose, and the fallout will be immense.

Win, and he’s a genius.

But, no matter what happens, something has gone seriously wrong with the Blues’ Origin campaign.

Off night: Latrell Mitchell is sin-binned in Origin I.Credit:NRL Photos

Last year’s series victory, in which 11 debutants took part in game one, and more by the end of the series, had the Blues believing the decade-long Maroons’ dominance had ended with the retirements of Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk, Johnathan Thurston, Billy Slater, et al.

The king was dead. Long live the king.

It allowed Fittler to roll the dice again this year and name five more debutants for the first match at Suncorp. But an 18-14 loss away from home has shattered the confidence of the Blues’ hierarchy.

They either got it horribly wrong for game one, or they’ve got it horribly wrong for game two.

Three game-one debutants won’t be there. Payne Haas and Nick Cotric are out injured, but Cody Walker’s first-half performance appears to have consigned him to the Origin history bin as a one-hit non-wonder. That’s a shame.

Under pressure: Brad Fittler has gone with his gut with team selections for Perth.Credit:AAP

Also gone are Josh Morris (who did all that was asked of him and more), Angus Crichton (who is........

© Brisbane Times