BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 11: Nathan Cleary of the Blues passes during game three of the State of Origin series between the Queensland Maroons and the New South Wales Blues at Suncorp Stadium on July 11, 2018 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

With all the negativity that came out on the back of the ridiculous decision to award Billy Slater the player of the series medal after Origin Three, the fact that the Blues won the series seems to have been somewhat forgotten.

Queensland’s winning of game three and the procession of cringe-worthy videos dampened the celebrations. The shield wasn’t lifted until the lights were literally dimmed which shows just how wrong the decision not to award the shield after Origin Two is.

The fact remains though, New South Wales won the series.

Comments during the week by former New South Wales coach Laurie Daley probably continue to show why he is the FORMER coach.

For those who missed, or rightfully ignored, the comments made, Daley suggested that Nathan Cleary’s performances across the series were underwhelming.

The statement in itself is not the most outrageous moment in rugby league history. I myself had Daly Cherry-Evans as the most impactful halfback in the series despite on playing one game. This came due to the fact he was the only number seven to really dominate a game and dictate terms.

Not for a second am I suggesting that Cleary was in any way bad, but Daley is perhaps correct in that Cleary did not set up thirty tries across the three games, nor did he make line breaks every set.

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I take issue with the fact that Daley continues to make ridiculous comments about the Blues despite the series win.

For the record I thought Cleary played exceptionally well. No one will ever forget the tackle he made late in game two when it looks as though Valentine Holmes (I believe) might streak away and again break blue hearts.

Add to that the fact he controlled terms early in game one and had to steer the ship in game two while Maloney was in the sin bin … oh and the fact that Cleary is a 20-year-old on Origin debut, and I think he can be proud of his efforts.

Daley’s comments are made even more cringe-worthy by the fact that they really weren’t needed.

Cleary is a 20-year-old celebrating the highlight of his career to date. He literally helped lead his state to an Origin victory. He in no way disgraced himself, even making a potentially series-winning tackle.

What good comes from a former, and increasingly bitter, ex-coach using such terminology?

Let’s not forget these comments are coming from a man who continued to pick players who simply could not get the job done. The 2017 series, thankfully his last in charge, will be remembered as, what feels like, the tenth time Daley went back to a combination that was not working.

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He openly stated that he would live and die, in terms of his future, by his decision to build a side around Mitchell Pearce. I don’t want to turn this into an attack on Pearce but Daley was rightfully ousted from his role after yet another failure at rep level by the club legend.

I’m not suggesting that Daley’s decision to stick with Pearce despite years and years of falling short are in any way linked to his comments re Cleary, but you’d think he’d perhaps want to stay clear of the NSW play-making debate.

I’m also not suggesting that Cleary is above criticism. I myself have been hugely critical of NSW halves in the past, but the two halves I remember most fondly are Nathan Cleary and Trent Hodkinson.

What do those two number sevens have in common? … THEY WON!!!

Ultimately that is all that matters.

Cleary, playing well, delivered an Origin series victory.

If he had been a passenger and the Blues won despite his being there, then let the pile on commence. The fact is, Cleary made a hugely important tackle, played very well across at least two of the three games, and all before his 21st birthday.

Underwhelming probably isn’t at the top of the list of words I’d have used to describe his performance.


  1. Laurie should hang his head in shame, such comments are a joke. IMO Gallen & Laurie will always be remembered as the most unsuccessful blokes to be involved with Origin.

    • Daley did win in 2014 you know, go check out the history.
      If Hayne passes the ball last year we also win in 2017.

    • I feel sorry for Gallen if anything, I feel sorry for a lot of Blues players. So many of them wore their heart on there sleeve and gave it there all, yet it always came to nothing.

      Pearce is a great club player, but just like Ben Hunt, folds under pressure.

      I don’t blame Pearce at all, heck, I feel sorry for him as well. The only 2 times he hasn’t been halfback, we have won. Imagine how the poor bloke must feel? Constantly being picked for something he fell short of?

      Selectors and coaches just ruined origin.

  2. Is there a link or something for that joker Daleys comments?
    I can’t find them anywhere and nothing coming up on this article for me.

  3. Laurie Daley is spot on, Cleary was average at best.
    Every kick went to slater on the Full, a pathetic kicking game.
    Cleary never ever ran the ball to commit the defence and put a speedster like Roberts through any gaps at all.
    Not once!

    Who is the Form halfback before, during and now after Origin?
    Adam Reynolds is the form halfback and Cody Walker is the Form 5/8.
    Undisputed Facts!

    • No mate. Cleary won his first origin series and was good because he did his job. Reynolds failed and wont be playing again in his career as he failed to make the step up. Walker isn’t playing origin either because Keary will go straight in. The form halves of the comp were Cleary and Maloney and through origin. The current form halves are Moylan and Pearce.

    • Laurie Daley is a bitter old fool. Nathan Cleary played very good games. He was protected by James Maloney, and he will be picked next year.

    • They should of went with Maloney as half and Keary as 5/8. Maloney controlled the game as half anyway whilst Keary who should of played was 19th man. I would say Fittler will be going for Cleary and Keary in next years Origin based on this years selections with Maloney probably getting pushed out with the aim of a long term younger combination of the two mentioned.🎱

  4. I honestly think it was Fittler’s game plans that made Cleary appear to be “quiet”. And that isn’t a knock on Fittler at all, I think he was very smart in how he did it. He sees Cleary as the future for NSW, but he is very young, so he didn’t want to heap too much pressure on the kid, and potentially have another Jarrod Mullen scenario. So, instead, we have Maloney running the team, and Cleary just playing the role of ball distributor. He did his job just fine, and he tackled his guts out all series, constantly being targeted by Queensland. As for kicking it straight to Slater, Slater is far and away the best positional fullback in the game and constantly plays with high energy levels. It is very rare that any long kick finds the grass in any game he plays.

    Leading into Origin, Cleary and Maloney were the only choice for NSW, Reynolds and Walker had not hit their straps yet, and those 2 delivered the shield to NSW, so how anyone could doubt that they deserved to be there is beyond me…..

  5. Nathan’s stats

    2018 Season – By Round
    Round Opponent Score Position Minutes Played Tries Goals Points Kicking Metres Forced Drop Outs Try Assists Linebreaks Tackle Breaks Post Contact Metres Offloads Receipts Tackles Made Missed Tackles Total Running Metres Hit Up Running Metres Kick Return Metres
    1 Maroons Maroons W Won 22 – 12 Halfback 80 – – – 377 – – – 1 12 – 58 25 4 48 – –
    2 Maroons Maroons W Won 18 – 14 Halfback 80 – – – 93 – – – 5 11 1 50 25 5 45 – –
    3 Maroons Maroons L Lost 18 – 12 Halfback 80 – 2 4 264 1 – – 2 16 – 55 28 2 50 –

  6. How anyone tends to think Cleary played bad is outrageous! The kid did his job, was safe, got us the series win and that’s all you can ask for really. He is only 20 turning 21 later in the year I believe, so he’s only going to get better.

    • He did nothing mate, except a couple of good tackles. You must of watched three different games than the people choosing the Australian merit team, which was based purely on Origin. Maloney got the 7💋

  7. If the NSW team was picked now, Maloney wouldn’t be picked at all. Most likely Cleary wouldn’t be picked either.
    If Penrith played the way they have , without effort & spirit for the most part over the last month plus. You wouldn’t pick any of them. The only game they won out of the last five was without Maloney , Cleary.
    As good as Maloney was for a lot of the year, his tackling now is pathetic . Bet his team mates hope that he would stop giving intercepts , virtually directly to players standing out of the defensive line . Players all just standing , waiting to take an intercept. Ever heard of throwing a dummy & running behind them?
    Pitiful efforts.

  8. Cleary did absolutely nothing in this years Origin. Mal Menninga named the Merit Australian side and Cleary who did zip was not mentioned in it. Maloney basically played halfback and ran the show in attack and defense making ALL the calls. Halfbacks are organizers. Cleary did not do any of it. Hence Big Mal picking Maloney in the 7 for Australia. I rest my Case😎

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