Horror stats prove Cleary’s an Origin flop
Here is the proof that NSW's supposed superstar Nathan Cleary has been a State of Origin flop and is on track to become the Blues' next Mitchell Pearce.
Cleary will return to his house of grand final horrors on Wednesday night as the Blues attempt to keep the Origin series alive with a win at ANZ Stadium.
It will be Cleary's seventh appearance in a NSW jersey after he dodged the axe following a poor performance in Queensland's boilover Game One win in Adelaide last week.
For all the hype and carry on about his Dally M Medal snub, Cleary has been a failure when it comes to the pressure-cooker arena.
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He had an horrendous first half in Penrith's grand final loss to Melbourne last month and The Courier-Mail has uncovered a number of statistics which paint a grim picture of Cleary's Origin career.
In six games since debuting in 2018, the Blues halfback and chief playmaker is yet to produce a try-assist, line break or line break assist. He has also not scored a try.
While Cleary, 22, won his maiden series in 2018, he missed last year's decider with an ankle injury and was replaced by Pearce, who clinched his first ever series win after eight attempts.
Pearce became the poster boy for a generation of NSW halfback struggles, winning only six of 19 Origin games and failing to play in a triumphant series until last year as the Maroons tormented the talented NRL playmaker.
Blues coach Brad Fittler axed Game One five-eighth Luke Keary in favour of Cody Walker following NSW's Adelaide choke, sparing Cleary despite his lacklustre performance.
Queensland coach Wayne Bennett sparked mind games on Tuesday by claiming the Blues could be taking a risk changing their halves.
"They did that last year," he said.
"It's not what you really want because you have such a short preparation and everybody is a bit new to each other.
"If they felt they had to do it then they had to do it. The point I'm making is it's not always what you want. Sometimes it makes a difference.
"I can't talk much about (Cleary). I don't follow him in Origin. I'm too busy looking at my players."
Walker made his Origin debut in NSW's Game One loss last year and was dropped for the next game.
This time he has been elevated to replace Keary with the series on the line and Bennett will deploy South Sydney hit man Jaydn Su'A to shut down his Rabbitohs teammate.
"He (Walker) is quite a handful, I love him as a player and he's a great player to coach," Bennett said.
"We will need to be on our game Wednesday night.
"Su'A has trained against him for nearly two years now and (Dane Gagai) has been with him that long. They both know him well and playing on the side he will be coming down. He will challenge them, he is a very good player.
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"I think he got over (being dropped). He will appreciate the opportunity and make the most of it."
Maroons captain Daly Cherry-Evans said NSW's halves change worked last year after the Blues came back to win the series from 1-nil down.
"I know they are changing their side but that worked for them last year so I am hoping it is not the case this year," he said.
"You just have to make sure you are aware of the changes and prepare well. We defended really well in game one but we need to go to another level."
Originally published as Horror stats prove Cleary's an Origin flop