'Didn't stand up': Andrew Johns calls for heads to roll after NSW shocker

Australian Associated Press
·3-min read
Luke Keary (pictured) making his debut for the Blues in State of Origin.
NRL immortal Andrew Johns has called for Luke Keary (pictured) to be dropped after the first State of Origin game. (Getty Images)

Andrew Johns has called for Cody Walker to be given NSW's No.6 jersey for State of Origin II as part of halves changes that would see Luke Keary axed.

NSW failed to hold onto their 10-0 half-time lead in Wednesday night's series opener, as Queensland made them pay for missed opportunities in the 18-14 loss.

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Walker was given just 19 minutes off the bench after being the form player of the NRL over the last two months, coming on as a third playmaker of sorts.

Nathan Cleary and Luke Keary, meanwhile, showed some spark in the halves in the first half playing both sides of the ruck, but neither set up a try or linebreak.

In comparison Walker put two players through holes, including Josh Addo-Carr for a try, in his short stint on the field.

Johns has previously called for a running five-eighth - like Walker or Jack Wighton - to partner Cleary, in a move that would allow him to play a similar style he did for Penrith.

And after Wednesday night's series-opening loss, the Blues legend believes that must come in the shape of Walker.

Andrew Johns watches on during a New South Wales Blues State of Origin training session.
Andrew Johns watches on during a New South Wales Blues State of Origin training session at Kippax Lake on May 31, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Brook Mitchell/Getty Images)

"What I saw tonight in the last 15 minutes, 20 minutes I think that Cody Walker has to start," Johns said on Nine.

"He has to come in at five-eighth. He provides a lot of creativity. The Blues' left side of the field looked vulnerable on occasions.

"I thought when he came on the field, Cody, he likes to play. He likes to get his hands on the ball and he likes to create.

"Times in that second half obviously the Blues were on the back foot. They had quick play of the ball and the halves didn't stand up and play."

Johns questions Keary’s defence

Johns also questioned Keary in defence, and was in favour of the change, given it would allow Ryan Papenhuyzen to come onto the bench at No.14 at ANZ Stadium.

"I think that he comes in for Luke Keary," Johns said.

"Luke, defensively tonight, looked a little bit vulnerable on that side of the field.

"They have had a long year the Roosters, they have been up for a long time."

"What Cody Walker can do, he can free up his outside guys. Josh Addo-Carr needed more ball."

NSW coach Brad Fittler meanwhile was left to lament his team's game management early in the game, after they made six errors in the first 15 minutes.

"I think the halves were disappointed with the first half, we just couldn't get to a kick," he said.

"Whether it was their fault or not, we just had to take some energy out of the other team."

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