Origin scene for Kangaroos No.7 battle

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Australian assistant coach Michael Hagan has challenged incumbent Test halfback Daly Cherry-Evans to use State of Origin to "get back onto level terms" with Nathan Cleary ahead of the World Cup.

The Kangaroos will end a hiatus stretching back to a shock 2019 loss to Tonga when they head to England later this year aiming to secure a third-straight world title.

Since then Cleary has taken a stranglehold on the NRL and State of Origin arena, piloting Penrith and NSW to dominance last season.

Hagan said Cleary's form was hard to ignore.

"You'll need a couple of good halfbacks in the (24-man World Cup) squad I'd think," Hagan told AAP.

"Where Nathan sits based on his last 18 months with the premiership with Penrith and his Origin success, there's an opportunity now for Daly to get back onto level terms.

"That's what their focus will be with Origin in mind, so it'll be a good battle."

Origin coaches Brad Fittler and Billy Slater will help pick the Kangaroos, the Blues coach on Tuesday doing his best to toe the line.

"I'm assuming Nathan is doing enough to at least be in the discussion," Fittler said.

"I'm not a selector at the moment, at the moment I am the coach.

"That will be discussed after the game (but) winning these games on this stage goes a long way to sealing the position, I would say."

NRL title-winning coach Hagan coached a 20-year-old Slater in his 2004 Origin debut, in charge for two seasons before returning as Mal Meninga's assistant for the back end of the Maroons' eight-year title streak.

He has no concerns about Slater's coaching inexperience, particularly with Cameron Smith and Johnathan Thurston as assistants.

"We'd sit down and go through some clips and just his conversations about what type of kicks to expect, what play to go back on the tackle count struck me," Hagan recalled of Slater as a player.

"It's all about that kick reception; there's not too many stoppages, penalties, that's a huge focus and he was instrumental at getting us out of the back-field.

"He's clued up to the technical parts of the game.

"And the thing about Billy that first struck me was that there was no lack of confidence in his make-up.

"He's always had that belief; he was never the biggest guy, but was always competitive and tough."

Hagan expects the six-strong Penrith clique to guide the Blues' push for a fourth series win in five years.

"It's a very direct, aggressive way to play that's suited to Origin," he said of Penrith's game plan.

"You don't get as much time to make decisions. Defensively they shut teams down getting off the line, and Origin is about that for 80 minutes

"But coming out of Melbourne, Slater's worked hard on that focus his whole career."

The Blues will start heavy favourites but Hagan expects a tight contest and is confident Slater and his staff will have their four Maroons debutants prepared to perform.

"It's about having the experience and understanding that Origin is a different event to the NRL," he said.

"That's something that Mal did well, separated the two."

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