In a bewildering announcement on Thursday night, despite it being neither required or wanted, the NSWRL proudly trumpeted the Blues’ adoption of State of Origin’s first ever alternate jersey in 2019. Adding to the confusion was the insistence by Blues Coach Brad Fittler that, rather than a cynical cash grab, the move was an extension of the teams’ new found culture of innovation.
“We pride ourselves on being innovative and this will be the first time in State of Origin history that a team has used an alternate jersey,” Fittler told nswrl.com. “It aligns with our vision of taking a fresh new approach to the series, and the game’s decision to take Origin matches to new frontiers. We fully support any move to grow Rugby League’s showpiece event to even more fans.”
With all due respect to Fittler, this is complete BS.
While the 2018 results no doubt support Fittler’s innovative approach to preparation he implemented this year, there is a big difference between challenging the status quo and making change for change’s sake. The Blues mentor was not content to leave it there though and deciding to double down on what imaginary benefits the jumper will deliver.
“We’re confident our alternate strip will inspire a new generation of Blues supporters,” Fittler surprisingly suggested. “And give the crowd in Perth even more reason to get behind us as we defend the Shield,” he concluded because everybody knows the best way to win a foreign crowd over is with an inverted version of your traditional jersey.
NSWRL Head of Commercial Jodie Cross was keen to suggest that the new jumper wasn’t just about innovation but about tradition too. “It was important for us to keep NSW’s core elements intact, which is reflected in the chevron being incorporated into the design and the sky blue colour retained in the jersey.” Yep, nothing says tradition like chevrons that have been on the jumper for 12 months.
It wasn’t all nonsense from Cross though.”We urge all NSW supporters to get behind their team and take advantage of a unique opportunity to own a limited edition jersey,” she told nswrl.com.au. It is finally in these comments that the truth of the situation is finally laid bare. While it was hidden behind a lot of talk about innovation, the overwhelming motivation for the jumper is commercial. At the end of the day the only innovation on show in this exercise is one of cynicism. By all means create a new jersey to try and prise more dollars out of the fans wallet but don’t treat them like fools while you do it.