This week we run the sidelines with lost boy and man of the people, Bradley Scott ‘Freddy’ Fittler…
Hits & misses
Divides opinion, but there’s a lot more good than bad. Fittler is considered by many as symptomatic of Nine’s anti-intellectual recruitment but, as a sideline commentator and weekend pundit, he’s great at what he does.
If the main commentary roster had a little more finesse, Fittler would likely shine even brighter in his role as the endearing fool. Unfortunately, when the steady hands of Yvonne Sampson or Sterlo aren’t around, it can all start to look a bit sloppy. Basically, he gets to start a food fight at the kids table while the grown ups smile through their disapproval.
He loves the game with a purity that most of us relinquished sometime between primary school and high school. This sense of fun and abandon is present in every broadcast. Can switch gears to do the hushed, stoic pre-Origin interviews when required, but it’s not what he’s known for.
Fittler wouldn’t be a proper NRL man without the odd muddled expression. Has been known to back teams to “break the voodoo”. He also once described Ruben Wiki as being “carved out of chisel”.
Away from the sideline, there’s no better showcase for Fittler than the sublime chaos that is Freddy’s Pass Off. The segment is a staple of the Sunday Footy Show involving men in suits, out of breath, trying to remember not to swear in front of bewildered children. It’s shambolic. It’s DIY. It’s toe-curlingly awkward. And with Fittler at the helm, it’s possibly the greatest thing on Australian television.
View from the stands
A teen sensation who spent the best part of 15 years in the game’s absolute upper eschelons. Bookended his club career with premierships at Penrith and the Roosters.
Fittler is also one of the most esteemed rep players for both NSW and the Kangaroos. Answering Gus Gould’s SOS call in 2004 to make an Origin comeback could not have been more of a fairytale finish, scoring the final try in Game 3 to cap off a series win.
There’s no point trying to argue with the bloke’s career. Or his left foot step.