Knights legend Matty Johns believes there’s two rookies set to challenge both James Maloney and Nathan Cleary for selection at the halves position for this upcoming Origin series.
Last year, both Maloney and Cleared helped guide NWS to victory, although the first five rounds this season their form at club level hasn’t been overly convincing.
The halves will need to figure out a way to get Penrith back on the winners’ list, which will help guarantee their selection in Brad Fittler’s Blues outfit.
“Penrith have got to start to win. Nathan and James Maloney have really, from this week, got to fire some shots,” Johns said on the Fox League podcast.
“I would say in Freddy’s mind he’s going if my players who did it for me last year are in good form, and they’re showing they are in good form, I’ll pick them.”
Johns says pending the form of the last year’s NSW halves, there are two players in Luke Keary and Cody Walker pushing for Origin selection as reliable play-makers.
“Keary is undeniable. And the way Cody Walker is playing now it’s starting to look as if they could be a fair combination,” Johns said.
“Our most successful period in State of Origin history, no matter what period you look at, is what you’ve got key players who have key combinations in the side.
“I think Keary and Walker could work together … but a key combination of that is Cody Walker and Damien Cook. That’s a key combination. So there’s some really good combinations in that team.
“The hard one for Freddy to leave out would be Nathan (Cleary). My gut feel is Nathan will have to be injured not to be picked.
“If they picked it tomorrow I have no doubts it would be Keary and Cleary.”