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Brad Fittler: Stellar

Many knew the capabilities of Brad Fittler with the ball in hand, but in his nine-year career in Red, White and Blue, few could stop the mercurial playmaker in his wake as he enjoyed a top-level career that included Club, State and International glory. 

Name: Bradley Scott Fittler
Nickname: Freddy
DOB: 05/02/1972
Club Debut: Round 1, 1996 vs Sydney Tigers
Roosters Player No. 948
Premierships 1 (2002)
First-Grade Games for Club: 217
First-Grade Points for Club: 390 from 91 tries, 9 goals and 8 field goals
Representative Career: 7 games for NSW City (1991-1997)
31 State of Origin Matches for NSW (1990-1996, 1998-2001, 2004)
40 Test Matches for Australia (1991-1996, 1998-2001)
Individual Accolades: Dally M Centre of the Year (1992, 1993)
Dally M Lock of the Year (1994)
Dally M Five-Eighth of the Year (1998, 1999, 2002)
Dally M Captain of the Year (1999)
Provan Summons Medal (1997)
Rugby League Week Player of the Year (1997)
Jack Gibson Medal (1998, 2000)
Golden Boot Award (2000)
World Cup Winner with Australia (1992, 1995*, 2000*)
State of Origin Series Wins (1990, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1996*, 2000*, 2004)
NRL Minor Premierships (2004)
World Club Challenge Winner (2003)
NSW State of Origin Captain (1995-1996, 1999-2001)
Australian Kangaroos Captain (1995-1997, 2000-2001)
Sydney Roosters Captain (1997-2004)
Sydney Roosters Head Coach (2007-2009)
NRL Team of the 1990s (2003)
Australian Rugby League's 100 Greatest Players (2007)
Sydney Roosters Centurions (2007)
Australian Rugby League Hall of Fame (2008)
Sydney Roosters Hall of Fame (2010)
New South Wales State of Origin Head Coach (2018-present)
Records and Achievements: Most Games as Sydney Roosters Captain (199)
Tenth Most Capped Rooster of All Time (217 Games)
Sixth Highest Try Scorer for Roosters (91 Tries)
Youngest NSW State of Origin Player (18 years 114 days)
  *denotes as captain

Growing up in the Penrith district, Fittler rose through the grades at meteoric speed, making his first-grade debut at seventeen before taking the NSWRL by storm with his positional versatility and lethal left-foot step. 

He tasted Premiership glory, State of Origin victories and success on the international stage before his 21st birthday, but it was his move east that would cement him as one of Rugby League's greatest figures. 

With the Panthers joining the ill-fated Super League, Fittler remained loyal with the ARL, joining former head coach Phil Gould at the Roosters in 1996 – to form one of the finest player and coach combinations in Club history.

Scoring a try on his debut in the no.13 jersey, Fittler’s influence on the side was immediate as the Red, White and Blue won their first ten matches, going on to feature in finals football for the first time since 1987.

The following season the Tricolours went one game better with a Preliminary Final finish, as Fittler took over the captaincy and took home the Provan Summons Medal as the best player in the game.

Accolades and success continued for Fittler as the new millennium loomed, leading the Roosters to the semi-finals once again, claiming the gong as Dally M Five-Eighth of the Year (1998 and 1999), Dally M Captain of the Year (1999) and being named the Jack Gibson Medallist on two occasions (1998, 2000).

Hall Of Fame | Brad Fittler

Season 2000 was another notch on the belt of the Australian and NSW Captain, claiming the World Cup with the Kangaroos, a record-breaking State of Origin series win while leading the Club to their first Grand Final in two decades following a miraculous Preliminary Final win where he orchestrated one of the all-time comebacks.

With a burning desire to bring silverware and success back to the Roosters, Fittler made the selfless decision to retire from representative football in 2001, solely concentrating on Club duties as he led a new generation of players into the 21st century.

His personal sacrifice was rewarded as his crowning moment then came in the 2002 Grand Final, as the 30-year-old became the force and inspiration for his team to end a 27-year Premiership drought for the Club.

With a narrow 12-8 lead midway through the second half, Fittler was the victim of a savage hit from a pair of Warriors forwards, felling the Roosters' skipper momentarily. His head bandaged and claret cascading down his face, the inspirational captain shook off the brutal shot and kicked a momentum-swinging 40/20, from there leading his side to an emphatic 30-8 win.

Overcoming their Premiership drought, the Roosters continued to dominate the competition until his retirement, recording a dominant 38-nil shutout of St Helens in the World Club Challenge, before making two more consecutive Grand Finals in 2003 and 2004, collecting the Minor Premiership - all with Fittler at the helm. 

Classy until his retirement, Freddy made a shock return to the representative arena in the 2004 State of Origin series, guiding NSW to victory after a mid-series call up and scoring a famous try in his final match as the Blues held aloft the Origin trophy once again.

So influential was Fittler to the Club, the Roosters featured in the finals in each of the nine seasons he played, and subsequently finished in the bottom half of the table in the three seasons following his departure, which spoke volumes on his influence and contribution – but he would return to the Club in a senior capacity sooner than many thought.

With Head Coach Chris Anderson sacked mid-way through a disastrous centenary season in 2007, Fittler was called up to fill in the void and his magic touch propelled the Red, White and Blue to a three-game winning streak and a return to form.

Hobbled by pain and stress, he could still turn games with his passion and courage and toughness and desire.

Phil Gould Former Roosters Coach

In 2008, he brought the Roosters back to the semi-finals for the first time since his retirement, although his short coaching career at Club level would end following a wooden spoon finish in 2009.

The following year Fittler became an inaugural inductee into the Sydney Roosters Hall of Fame alongside Dally Messenger, Dave Brown, Jack Gibson and Arthur Beetson, etching his name into Club folklore. 

He was also inducted in the NRL Team of the 1990s (2003), Sydney Roosters Centurions (2007), Australian Rugby League’s 100 Greatest Players (2007), Australian Rugby League Hall of Fame (2008), and has since returned to head coaching roles with Lebanon (2017 World Cup) and NSW State of Origin (2018-present).

In 2014 - ten years since his retirement - the fan favourite made a famous comeback in the Red, White and Blue at 42 years of age as he lined up in the Auckland Nines side, capping off his return with a trademark intercept try much to the delight of the raucous crowd.   

His legacy continues to live on at the Club, as the most capped captain (199), the tenth most capped player (217 games) and is the the sixth highest try scorer (91 tries). In 2018, Fittler was immortalised on the Club Legends Mural in Waverley alongside fellow Premiership-winning captains Arthur Beetson, Anthony Minichiello, Jake Friend and Boyd Cordner

Fittler has also made his presence known in the media with Channel 9 since retirement and has become one of the most well-respected commentators in the modern-day, and also has the Brad Fittler Medal in his honour, awarded to the best NSW player in each State of Origin series. 

In a stellar career, Brad Fittler conquered all in his nine seasons in the Red, White and Blue, bringing a Premiership to Bondi and setting up future success in the 21st century while representing at the highest of levels. 

 

More History on Roosters.com.au

Boyd Cordner: Courageous

The Origin of the Tricolours

Brett Morris: The Premier Winger