Nathan Cleary savaged over post-match act after State of Origin loss

·5-min read
Nathan Cleary, pictured here after NSW's loss to Queensland in the Origin decider.
Nathan Cleary looks on after NSW's loss to Queensland in the Origin decider. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Nathan Cleary has been called out by fans for his comments immediately following NSW's loss in the State of Origin decider.

NSW coughed up a 12-10 half-time lead as Queensland prevailed 22-12 to win their ninth series decider out of the last 10.

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The Blues made a mountain of errors in the second half and were courageous with their goal-line defence, but eventually cracked late with Kalyn Ponga and Ben Hunt scoring tries to help Queensland prevail.

Fans accused Cleary of going missing in the second half, with the halfback unable to spark the NSW attack when they most needed it.

The Panthers star also fluffed a chip-kick in the 79 minute that Hunt snaffled out of the air and raced 70 metres to score the match-sealer.

Cleary appeared gutted in an interview with Paul Gallen immediately after full-time, saying: "Yeah, it sucks."

However his comments went down like a lead balloon, with fans accusing him of not displaying enough passion.

Nathan Cleary, pictured here speaking to Paul Gallen after NSW's loss in State of Origin III.
Nathan Cleary speaks to Paul Gallen after NSW's loss in State of Origin III. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

"They just don't get it," one fan wrote on Twitter.

"No Queenslander would be caught dead saying that after a series loss. They just don't get it."

Another commented: "I thought the same, DCE was nearly in tears after managing to pull the win out, he would've been inconsolable if they had lost.

"Clearly seemed slightly upset but definitely none of the passion that the maroon boys were showing."

NSW rue costly mistakes after State of Origin loss

The loss marks the second time in the space of three years that Brad Fittler's side have had the chance to wrap up the series, only for Queensland to pip them in the decider.

There was a sombre tone in the NSW dressing room and for prop Junior Paulo it felt like another opportunity missed.

"That one really hurts," he said. "We were able to stick in it right until the end.

"It sort of mimics that 2020 series, losing a decider again, it was almost a replay of Game III 2020.

"The emotional rollercoaster drives you to come back better. And hopefully the opportunity presents itself in the future."

Nathan Cleary and Brad Fittler, pictured here after the State of Origin series decider.
Nathan Cleary and Brad Fittler look on after the State of Origin series decider. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Fittler's team had the chance to enter their names into the discussion of being one of the great NSW Origin teams.

Victory would have meant the Blues had a 4-1 record during Fittler's five series in charge since 2018.

But their inability to knock over a stubborn Maroons side playing with a two-man bench for 75 minutes will shape as a big chance gone begging.

"We lost our way a bit but I thought we were able to stay in that grind," Paulo said.

"There's a bit of luck in rugby league and you create your luck and Queensland got some.

"You've got to give them credit for what they did tonight, it was an arm wrestle which went both ways.

"They had to reshuffle as well and they turned up, we knew it would be hard coming here."

The Blues were the victims of their own doing and made basic errors, with Daniel Tupou knocking on just before half-time with Queensland scoring on the next set through Kurt Capewell.

Jarome Luai hurled a ball into touch and Siosifa Talakai made two costly errors late in the game which ensured the Blues were always on the back foot.

"Queensland were definitely the better team," Fittler said.

"I've been doing this a long time and you win and lose - it's just disappointing.

"The guys have worked so hard and sacrificed in and amongst club footy. Normally that's what makes people strive harder, and we've got to be better."

with AAP

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