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Jasper Bruce

Gallen surprised at Fittler's exit, won't replace him

NSW great Paul Gallen says he won't for applying for Blues' vacant State of Origin coaching job. (Mark Evans/AAP PHOTOS)

State of Origin great Paul Gallen admits he was surprised to see Brad Fittler quit his post as NSW coach while confirming he is not interested in replacing him.

On Thursday, Fittler declined a one-year extension tabled by NSW Rugby League (NSWRL), instead leaving the role after back-to-back series defeats.

AAP understands the new deal would have come with changes to the structure of the job, which had been a full-time position for the six years of Fittler's tenure.

Fittler's exit came only a week after he pitched for his job, presenting the NSWRL board with a plan to overhaul the coaching staff and bring legendary Blues mentor Phil Gould on as an advisor.

"I'm surprised Freddy quit," former NSW captain Gallen told 2GB.

"He was going to bring some of the greats back but he's decided to quit, which is his call.

"I can understand it, he's a guy who's done everything in the game.

"For what he's done and where he is in life, he probably doesn't need the pressure and all the scrutiny on top of him."

Origin coaches typically have a storied history as a player for their state, with Blues legends Ricky Stuart and Laurie Daley the two men who held the NSW position before Fittler.

Queensland have won the last two series after appointing 31-time Maroon Billy Slater to the top job despite his lack of experience as an NRL head coach.

Gallen, NSW's captain for their drought-breaking 2014 series win, is widely regarded as one of the state's finest players in modern times and currently coaches Cronulla's under-16s pathways team.

While he has no interest in coaching the Blues, he may be keen on an assistant role similar to those held by Queensland legends Cameron Smith and Jonathan Thurston on Slater's staff.

"I'd be happy to join them and help out, but being the head coach no," Gallen said.

"I'd be happy to be involved, whoever does get the job."

Current NRL head coaches Ricky Stuart and Craig Bellamy have been floated as two possible successors, having both previously led NSW.

NSWRL is thought to be open to relaxing its current policy that overlooks current NRL coaches for appointment to the Blues job.

Gallen understood NRL clubs could be reticent to release coaches for Origin duty, but believed selecting an active NRL mentor could be the best option.

"I do," he said.

"(But) club coaches these days are probably on a million dollars. If you're paying someone a million dollars, you want their 100 per cent focus on that job."

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