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.
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.
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.
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.