live Infotainment Factory: The secret Freddy checklist that saved Cleary

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Saturday, 25 May 2019

The secret Freddy checklist that saved Cleary


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Struggling NSW halfback Nathan Cleary has ticked a secret checklist of Blues coach Brad Fittler to keep his spot for Origin I.

That's according to iconic Blues No.7 Peter Sterling, with Cleary set to be retained after a late injury spree.

It's believed that Cleary was likely to be picked anyway, with Fittler keen to honour a pact with Phil Gould to maintain faith in the young halfback. The Penrith star's spot was cemented by injuries to Luke Keary, Adam Reynolds and Mitchell Pearce this weekend, while Rabbitohs ace Cody Walker will be named for a debut at five-eighth.

Sterling said that Cleary, despite a horror start to the season for Penrith, had also upheld crucial parts of his game.

"All of a sudden, the smorgasbord we had, it's almost a process of elimination as to which players Freddy goes," Sterling said on Sports Sunday. "I favour Cleary and Walker.

"Nathan Cleary, who I think was in front anyway, I think his spot is pretty much confirmed now.

"Brad watches the game differently to everybody else and Cleary would miss out if his defence had become shoddy, if his kicking game was way off, if there wasn't hunger and desire in his play.

"He gets ticks against all of those this year. The side hasn't played well, he hasn't particularly starred, but all of the little things that Freddy wants from his halfback going into Origin are still in Nathan's game.

"He hasn't [had many wins this season], there's no doubt about that. Last year, part of the criteria was that Freddy was looking to pick players from sides that were doing well, so it does go against that.

"But he wants to pick him, I've no doubt about that. Maybe his performance against Parramatta, where he was the best of a bad lot, it's fair to say, I think got him over the line."

Cleary played second-fiddle to James Maloney in Origin last season, offering his side a steady hand in attack, a sound kicking game and sturdy defence. His role may be repeated this season, with Walker in sensational attacking form for the 10-1 Rabbitohs.

Walker will fill a NSW No.6 jersey that was destined to go to Roosters star Luke Keary; who is out of contention due to concussion. Fittler is tipped to name the entire left edge of the Roosters despite Keary's absence, including a comeback for winger Daniel Tupou.

It will be up to Walker to get the Tricolours premiership stars firing.

"Nathan Cleary plays on the right, Cody Walker on the left," Sterling said.

"He's such a natural, instinctive player that I don't think he's going to have any problems jelling with that Roosters left side of Boyd Cordner, Latrell Mitchell. James Tedesco."

Struggling NSW halfback Nathan Cleary has ticked a secret checklist of Blues coach Brad Fittler to keep his spot for Origin I.

That's according to iconic Blues No.7 Peter Sterling, with Cleary set to be retained after a late injury spree.

It's believed that Cleary was likely to be picked anyway, with Fittler keen to honour a pact with Phil Gould to maintain faith in the young halfback. The Penrith star's spot was cemented by injuries to Luke Keary, Adam Reynolds and Mitchell Pearce this weekend, while Rabbitohs ace Cody Walker will be named for a debut at five-eighth.

Sterling said that Cleary, despite a horror start to the season for Penrith, had also upheld crucial parts of his game.

"All of a sudden, the smorgasbord we had, it's almost a process of elimination as to which players Freddy goes," Sterling said on Sports Sunday. "I favour Cleary and Walker.

"Nathan Cleary, who I think was in front anyway, I think his spot is pretty much confirmed now.

"Brad watches the game differently to everybody else and Cleary would miss out if his defence had become shoddy, if his kicking game was way off, if there wasn't hunger and desire in his play.

"He gets ticks against all of those this year. The side hasn't played well, he hasn't particularly starred, but all of the little things that Freddy wants from his halfback going into Origin are still in Nathan's game.

"He hasn't [had many wins this season], there's no doubt about that. Last year, part of the criteria was that Freddy was looking to pick players from sides that were doing well, so it does go against that.

"But he wants to pick him, I've no doubt about that. Maybe his performance against Parramatta, where he was the best of a bad lot, it's fair to say, I think got him over the line."

Cleary played second-fiddle to James Maloney in Origin last season, offering his side a steady hand in attack, a sound kicking game and sturdy defence. His role may be repeated this season, with Walker in sensational attacking form for the 10-1 Rabbitohs.

Walker will fill a NSW No.6 jersey that was destined to go to Roosters star Luke Keary; who is out of contention due to concussion. Fittler is tipped to name the entire left edge of the Roosters despite Keary's absence, including a comeback for winger Daniel Tupou.

It will be up to Walker to get the Tricolours premiership stars firing.

"Nathan Cleary plays on the right, Cody Walker on the left," Sterling said.

"He's such a natural, instinctive player that I don't think he's going to have any problems jelling with that Roosters left side of Boyd Cordner, Latrell Mitchell. James Tedesco."

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