Cleary moulding Penrith's style with NSW

Scott Bailey
·3-min read

Nathan Cleary wants to bring Penrith's style of attack to NSW but concedes he'll have to loosen the reins slightly in Wednesday night's series opener.

Cleary was the most dominant half in the NRL this year, almost acting as a quarterback in attack and having more touches than any other No.7 with 71 per game.

Under Penrith's system that won 17 straight this year, Cleary played down the middle with Jarome Luai and Dylan Edwards acting as playmakers on each edge.

But Cleary knows that won't be the case in Origin.

Five-eighth Luke Keary has spoken about needing to play second fiddle, but is far more likely to roam rather than sit on one edge.

NSW fullback James Tedesco will also go in search of the ball, as one of the most devastating running No.1s in the competition to go with his ball-playing skills.

"We've just been trying to find that balance the past few days," Cleary said.

"With Teddy and Luke Keary there they are all over the field too.

"I probably won't have as many touches there. Obviously with Lukey there he is awesome with the ball too.

"I think more the time when I get the ball it will be just trying to create space for them and that will be my main focus.

"But it's coming along nicely and hopefully we can implant it Wednesday night."

It comes after Andrew Johns had suggested the Blues go with a running five-eighth as Cleary's partner, namely in the form of Dally M Medallist Jack Wighton.

Wednesday night's halves battle between Cleary and Daly Cherry-Evans shapes as a showdown of two similar moulds.

Penrith attacking coach Trent Barrett had a similar system at Manly when he was in charge there, with Cherry-Evans also having to slip into far less touches at Origin level.

The Sea Eagles No.7 still had the second most touches of all halves this year, with his 63 only bettered by Cleary.

But unlike Cleary, he has a running five-eighth in Cameron Munster playing outside him.

"I haven't really broken down what Chez played like when he was there, but I guess it's pretty similar," Cleary said.

"The way we have the dynamic at Penrith where I was ball dominant with the strike of Dylan Edwards and Romi (Luai) there, it worked well.

"Obviously Origin might be a bit different with us all swinging around the field, when Cody comes on too. It's just about trying to find that right balance."

"That (moulding it together) is the most important thing, and I think the team who will win Wednesday night is the team that (does that)."

Cleary meanwhile said he'd moved on from last week's grand final loss to Melbourne, after being his own harshest critic in the 26-20 defeat.

"I had to rebound quick," Cleary said.

"It's always going to be there. I've just accepted the fact I can't change the game now so I just have to control what I do moving on.

"It's probably the ideal year for (Origin) to happen (after the season).

"Any other year I would be in the off-season with that in my last game, and I would be reflecting on that."