November 4th. ORIGIN!!! Safe to say that there are going to be a string of talking points, but for mine, none are bigger than the amount of potential debuts that are sure to come for Origin One.
Queensland are in a situation where they may send out up to nine Origin rookies for Game One. NSW also look as though they’ll name a debutant centre, a prop and possibly the player who is the topic of today’s debate.
Luke Keary! Never has such a superstar player been the topic of such heated debate online re playing Origin.
We look at the arguments both for and against the Rooster’s premiership winning pivot running out next Wednesday night.
He’s the best option: Luke Keary is a two time Premiership winning five-eighth and represented the Kangaroos in 2018. He has been the standout number six for the past two seasons and would have debuted for the Blues last year if not for injury. Cody Walker’s end of season was full of highlights but only Jack Wighton’s form rivaled Keary’s across the 20 games. The fact Wighton is slated to play in the centres makes Keary the obvious and right option. Keary’s kicking game is also superior to both other options.
He and Cleary form the perfect combination: Single players can win Origin Games but 9 times out of 10 is takes more than individual brilliance. The Blues best bet is to send a halves combination into Origin One that can outplay the QLD due of DCE and Munster. In Nathan Cleary, who is the undoubted best option at halfback, you have a kicking maestro who can dictate the game; the conductor if you will. In Keary you have a run first five-eighth who is also capable of injecting himself into the game the second QLD take their eyes off him. They form the perfect combination. Walker and Wighton are both good options but Keary and Cleary compliment each other so well.
Big game player: Keary has two Premiership Winning medals, a Clive Churchill medal and two Kangaroo jumpers in his closet. He was Man of the Match for the Roosters in a game where his halves partner was literally one armed. Cooper Cronk just being Cooper Cronk certainly lifted the tri-colours on the night but it was Luke Keary who stood tall on Grand Final day in 2018. He was also magnificent in the 2019 decider. I also seem to remember a pretty handy effort in the World Club Challenge for Souths. He’ll have minimal nerves as he’s performed on the biggest stages many times.
NSW Fans: Would you play Luke Keary in Origin 1?
Pro: He's the undoubted best option at 6
Con: He actively fought to be eligible for QLD
— Sutho (@suthodan) October 12, 2020
He’s not the best option: Hmm, maybe he isn’t the best option? After all Jack Wighton just won the Dally M medal for player of the season. That means he’s not only the form number six but the form player. You play your best players in their best positions, so it has to be Wighton, right? Or what about the incredible late season form of Cody Walker? If you were picking PURELY on form, Walker would be there or there-abouts. Wighton’s versatility hurts him here as he’s the first choice centre but an argument can be made that you pick your best halves then build around, not the other way around.
He’s injury prone: I don’t like this reasoning but it came up so often in response to my twitter poll that I had to mention it. For mine you don’t pick teams on “oh what if he is concussed early in the game” as the premise seems utterly ridiculous. That said, Keary has missed plenty of game time due to concussion injuries and was even though to be looking at retirement in 2019 due to repeated head injuries. Again, I don’t subscribe to this theory, but if NSW lose their five-eight early, it could have a horrible effect. Injuries happen and for mine you can’t take that into consideration. It’s just luck in this instance.
He wanted to play for Queensland: This, for many, seems to be the kicker in this argument. Let’s not forget that many years ago, whilst still at Souths in fact, Keary was earmarked as a future Origin star … for QLD. He publicly stated he wanted to play for the Maroons and even said that he might turn down a Blues selection due to his love for Queensland. This is a player who stated clearly where his heart was and it was in the sunshine state. Why would NSW put their faith in a player who actively campaigned against representing the state and only seemed to accept it after a decision was made for him?
I’m naming Luke Keary to play every day of the week. He’s the best option at five-eighth and has proven numerous times that he’s up to the task on the biggest of stages.
The fact I had to reach for a ridiculous concussion angle (albeit after it was hammered in my replies) to find a third argument against picking Keary says it clear as day.
He’s the perfect foil for Nathan Cleary, who despite over reactive calls to not pick him, will be there for Origin One.
I can see an argument for Wighton to be picked at six, but it’s accepted that he’ll play in the centres as he did last year. I can also see an argument for Cody Walker, but if anything I’d pick him on the bench as a utility. Use him if you need him. It’s a luxury pick allowed by the fact NSW have so many big minute playing forward options.
I don’t care if he once wanted to play for QLD. I once wanted to be a pilot and I’m both colourblind and scared of heights. We all say stupid things.
Luke Keary will be there for Origin One, as he should be!