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Nathan Cleary is open to giving NSW Origin selectors his thoughts on the No.6 battle, but does not want to be the one who decides if Jarome Luai or Nicho Hynes partners him in Origin I.
Cleary knows the Blues are lucky to have two excellent five-eighth options in Luai, his Penrith two-time premiership-winning teammate, and Dally M Medal winner Hynes.
The halfback praised Luai while also parking his club loyalty to explain why he and Hynes could also work well against Queensland.
Phil Gould often leant on gun No.7 Andrew Johns in the early 2000s for his thoughts on which players would best suit their attacking styles.
Cleary said he was yet to hear from coach Brad Fittler about which way he was leaning.
“I’m open to give my opinion, but I don’t want to be the one making the decisions,” he said on Tuesday.
Jarome Luai, Nathan Cleary and Nicho Hynes. Credit: NRL Photos
“You could make cases for both of them at the moment. I’ve always enjoyed playing alongside ‘Romy’, and I’ve been lucky enough to do it for a long time now.
“There are moments when you’re on the field, especially when there are high-pressure moments, you’re tired, I don’t have to say anything to him and he just knows what’s coming and what I like to do. That definitely helps.
“[And with Hynes], I think Nicho is a great ball player. [You can] try to get him into position where he can utilise that. He’s obviously a great runner of the ball as well, so just trying to create opportunities for him, and numerical advantages against the defence, it’s pretty similar to Romy.
“I see them as X-factors as players, they’re really good out the back of shape and making the most of opportunities. It’s a good problem to have. They’re both outstanding.”
Hynes told The Sun-Herald how he hated Queensland whenever Origin rolled around, and why his running game would complement natural controller Cleary.
If Origin I in Adelaide at the end of next month goes down to the wire, the Blues can take heart they have Cleary in brilliant field-goal form. He slotted two in last weekend’s epic win over Newcastle.
“In the past, if you missed with your first attempt you may have shied away and been nervous about missing again – but [on Saturday] I didn’t feel those nerves, and wanted another one to redeem myself,” said Cleary, who shanked two attempts but booted two.
“That mentality comes from practice and having confidence and experience in games.”
Meanwhile, Canberra coach Ricky Stuart confirmed he knew about Jack Wighton wanting to quit representative football after the World Cup late last year. Wighton has made himself unavailable for the Blues.
“I didn’t know if Jack would change his mind, but obviously he hasn’t.” Stuart said. “The reasons he told me were that he wanted to spend more time with his family and put as much energy and effort as he can into his [club] football.”
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