Blues coach Fittler vows NSW incumbents have ‘first dibs’

Brad Fittler insists NSW's State of Origin winning incumbents only have to preserve their form from last season to have "first dibs" on selection in 2019.

The Blues coach has given the strongest hint he will be reluctant to make changes to last year's formula, which halted Queensland's Origin dynasty.

Leading hog: Brad Fittler prepares for his annual Hogs For The Homeless ride with (l-r) Mark O’Meley, Kezie Apps and Ian Schubert.Credit:NSWRL

Fittler used 11 debutants in the opening game of the 2018 series at the Melbourne Cricket Ground and was rewarded when his baby Blues sealed the series at ANZ Stadium in game two.

Clive Churchill Medal winner Luke Keary is among a host of candidates expected to rocket into the selection frame this year, but Fittler wants to recognise the players who finally turned the Origin tide.

"So many things happen in a week of rugby league so you've just got to be patient and let the players stand up as they did last year," said Fittler, who will kick off his annual Hogs for the Homeless Tour on Friday.

"Loyalty definitely counts. If those players are playing as good as they did last year they'll definitely be picked.

Last year we were saying we were going to win the Origin series. We've backed up our words.

"NSW players did extremely well at the back end of last year and there will be loyalty if they're playing as good as they did last year. They have dibs on the positions.

"Hopefully they use that experience and learn something out of it. A lot of people have had that experience and gone on and not learned the lesson and never done it again. Hopefully there's a lesson there to keep improving."

Fittler's annual motorbike ride throughout regional NSW will be expanded this year and will involve delivering a bus to children with a disability in Tumut, playing beach football in Lennox Head and selling sheep in Carcoar.

The nine-day tour will finish with the re-turfing of a school playing field in Baulkham Hills. The touring party plans to cover 4000km having partnered with the NSW Police and PCYC this year.

"One of the big things last year was to get out there and see what people thought of our footy team," Fittler said.

"Last year we were saying we were going to win the Origin series, this year the good thing is we can take the trophy around. We've backed up our words.

"I'm sure I'll be making a lot of promises again this year. It is very important to get out there and, anyone who has time to help out, [it would be great] if they can."

Hogs For The Homeless has raised almost $700,000 for Youth Off The Streets since its inception in 2013.

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