Nathan Cleary has shown exactly why he is one of the best players in rugby league after an absolute masterclass in Origin II.

NSW Blues halfback Nathan Cleary has erased his quiet Origin I performance with an absolute masterclass performance in game II.

Cleary was pressured, targeted and kept quiet in the first match in Sydney, shouldering the blame for the first match won 16-10 by Queensland.

Stream the FOX LEAGUE State of Origin Game 2 REPLAY on Kayo with no ads during-play. Both full and condensed replays available from 10:45PM AEST Sunday. New to Kayo? Try 14-Days Free Now >

But champions are never kept down for long.

After a brilliant return for Penrith as the defending premiers’ juggernaut charged on, Cleary continued the form onto the Origin stage.

The Blues claimed a monster 44-12 win in Perth, forcing a decider back in Perth as Cleary tore the Maroons apart.

Two tries and eight goals gave the Panthers star a personal tally of 24 points, the second most by a NSW player in a match behind only Ryan Girdler’s 32 in 2000.

Blues legend Andrew Johns said Cleary was playing like he’d been in the jersey for a decade, rather than 24-year-old in his 12th Origin match.

“(Cleary) was incredible tonight. What he is doing at his age as a half back at this level, there hasn’t been a halfback who has done that in Origin,” Johns said.

“His trajectory is going up and up. Some of these passes, his kicking, his running game, he is controlling the tempo of the game. He knows when to accelerate the team. It was a masterclass.

“And doing it on his own. When he came into Origin, the only knock I had on Nathan was his creativity, playing within the structure, not taking risks. He is doing it now.

“He is playing like a halfback who has played at this level for 10 years. He had it on a string tonight. And to do it against the truly elite, he pulled their pants down so many times.”

Phil Gould called the performance “one of the truly great halfback performances in Origin history”.

“In the first half he was a little frantic and side to side and trying to find something and a grubber kick to Burton got a spark in him and all of a sudden he started to tear Queensland apart,” Gould said.

“The two play I thought were terrific were the early kicks, the 40-20 down to the corner and the early chip kick down in this corner which got Ponga in goal and they scored from the line drop out.

“Then he got into rhythm, the over the top pass, the dummy, the show and go and he played off the back of good forwards. As the game went on, he got into another stratosphere of his own performance.”

Speaking on Channel 9 after the game, Blues captain James Tedesco was unsurprised by Cleary’s stunning performance.

“There was unwarranted criticism after the first game but it shows what a champion player he is,” Tedesco said.

“He comes out in game 2 and puts on a clinic with a lot of pressure on him. He is one hell of a player.”

Cleary said he didn’t have a chip on his shoulder in the match, despite the game I criticism.

“Not so much the criticism, more so the fact I knew I could be better, as a group we could be better,” Cleary said.

“I just try and play my best for my family and team mates and the state we are representing. I’m very lucky and blessed to wear this jersey and now we have one more to go. Looking forward to that.”

Despite seven changes to the 22-man squad for the first Origin match, Cleary paid tribute to Fittler, saying there wasn’t any panic for the second match of the series.

“There were only a few simple things we needed to change,” Cleary said on Channel 9. “It was a great week. Everyone bonded well. We knew week. Everyone bonded well. We knew we had a job to do and lucky enough to get it done.”

Social media was full of praise for Cleary.

AAP’s Scott Bailey wrote: “A lot of Nathan Cleary haters have suddenly gone very silent”.

WWOS’ Simon Brunsdon added: “One of the best games i’ve seen Cleary play. Dude is a freak”.

Read related topics:Brisbane

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *