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The day Gus ‘knocked out’ a young Freddy

Phil Gould says he once feared he had killed a young “smartarse” Brad Fittler, when he accidentally knocked him out in a training mishap.

In Wide World of Sports’ podcast Six Tackles with Gus, Gould said he was running training drills with Fittler and other young Penrith stars including Mark Geyer when the accident happened.

Having then only recently finished his own playing career, Gould recalls he used to take part in the training drills he ran.

“He was a young teenager, and he was a smartarse as a kid, Freddy,” he said.

“I’m trying to teach these forwards this little three-on-two play … I said give me three defenders out there and I’m trying to explain if you give me enough time I’ll draw him in and we’ll get a pass away.

“So Brad Fittler was standing on third defender. I always had pretty good instincts, so the ball is on its way and I could see him coming a mile away – he wasn’t going to do what I told him to do, he’s going to come in and crash tackle me and make fun of me.

1994: Brad Fittler of the Kangaroos poses for a photo during the Australian Kangaroos Rugby League photocall for the upcoming tour of Great Britain held in England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

“So as he’s got me, I’ve gone bang – put the elbow up and got him flush on the chin.

“His eyes roll back and down he went, and I thought was ‘my god, I’ve killed him’.

“That might’ve been the end of a very promising career.”

Gould said although painful for the teen who would go on to become one of the all-time greats of the game, he learned his lesson.

“He never did it again – he never rushed in again,” Gould said.

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