Blues axe Keary, name Walker for Origin II

Pamela Whaley
·2-min read

Luke Keary has been axed by NSW for a must-win State of Origin clash in Sydney, with Cody Walker named to wear the No.6 jersey.

The three-time NRL premiership winner is the only player dropped from Brad Fittler's Blues side after copping criticism for his performance in his Origin debut on Wednesday night.

The 28-year-old missed three tackles and made two errors in a quiet performance in the 18-14 loss in Adelaide but was upstaged by Walker who lifted spirits from the bench.

Walker, who was the form player of the competition for South Sydney over the final weeks of the NRL season, played just 19 minutes in game one for two line-break assists and a try-assist.

He will partner Nathan Cleary in the halves for the first time since his Origin debut in game one of last season after which he was dropped from the side.

The halves were both reprimanded for their poor kicking game in the series opener but Cleary believes the lessons have been learnt ahead of game two.

"Relax the game. I just need to calm down a bit when we're 10-nil up especially in that first half," he said.

"We just didn't take enough juice out of that Queensland side. It's something to look at and get better."

With Keary dropped, Cleary will be the sole game manager in his return to ANZ Stadium a little more than a fortnight since Penrith's crushing loss to Melbourne in the NRL decider.

Rolling into an Origin loss from the grand final is the first time this season Cleary has played in back-to-back defeats after leading the Panthers to a remarkable 17-straight wins.

And he maintains there will be no hangover from the loss when he takes the field to level the series for the Blues on Wednesday night.

"Honestly once I got into camp it wasn't that hard," he said.

"It made it easy to forget it and move on and focus on the next job.

"It was obviously disappointing after the game but but once you got into camp it was fine."