Why Anthony Mundine is finally back in blue
IN one of the most unlikely reunions in State of Origin history, Anthony Mundine was invited into NSW's camp to take the players through a boxing session.
After years of feuding with Blues coach Brad Fittler, Mundine was allowed into NSW's inner sanctum and has praised his former nemesis for turning the outfit in Origin champions.
Mundine has constantly said over the years that he was a better player during his league career than the former Australian captain, but the pair have patched up their relationship.
"I said to Freddie 'I'm sorry for the past, I can't change it, but what I can do is help in any way I can to change the future'," Mundine told The Daily Telegraph.
"I never thought I would come into a Blues camp. I was as excited to meet the boys as they were to meet me.
"I give Freddie a big rap, he's done an amazing job with the team, and I think they can rule for the next decade if they get it right."
Mundine played three Origin games for NSW in 1999, but quit league the following year because of perceived racism.
"I whipped (Laurie) Daley, I whipped (Brad) Fittler, continuously," he said two years ago.
"Not one time, two times, three times, four, five. I'm talking five years - over five years straight.
"It cut me deep, man. They had to pick me in the State of Origin and then they messed me around, playing me off the bench, playing me in positions I'd never played before - in the forwards, in the hooking role."
Mundine said after the session at Wolloomolloo PCYC he applauded Fittler's selections, that has resulted in NSW winning the series 2-0 with the third Origin to be played on Wednesday week.
"That was a big reason I walked away from the game, we didn't have a lot of Koori boys getting picked even though they were winning Dally M player of the year in their positions," Mundine said.
"But Freddie doesn't see colour, he has picked on merit and I applaud him. I've always said you've got to fight fire with fire, and with Latrell Mitchell, James Roberts and Josh Addo-Carr they've got that.
"But also Tom Trbojevic on the wing, he's playing better at representative level than with Manly. That excites a lot of people.
"And I told Nathan Cleary to back himself, this is his team for a long time and he can't hesitate. I'm sure he backs himself anyway, but I just wanted to give me reassurance. He is a great talent."
The invitation for Mundine transpired after his new adviser Emaid Dib made contact with Fittler.
"Freddie rang me last week and said the invitation was there for me to come down and do a boxing session with the boys, and I jumped at the opportunity,' Mundine said.
"It says a lot about the guy, and I have said a lot of shit in the past that I shouldn't have said and I want to put that in the past.
"Queensland have always been a tight-knit group, but now we've got legends at NSW like Freddie and Greg Alexander who are picking the right players playing the best footy."
LIVE stream every game of every round of the 2018 NRL Telstra Premiership on FOX SPORTS. Get your free two-week Foxtel Now trial and start watching in minutes. SIGN UP NOW >