Statistic that shows the Nathan Cleary pile-on is plain wrong

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Nathan Cleary has been heavily criticised after his performance in State of Origin game one, but some believe it has become too harsh. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
Nathan Cleary has been heavily criticised after his performance in State of Origin game one, but some believe it has become too harsh. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

The dressing room tucked inside the large indoor warm-up area at Accor Stadium acts as a sanctuary to the outside world after a big game.

It's pretty much a no-go zone unless you're a player, member of the coaching staff or team official.

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You need a damn good reason to gain entry.

Players are trotted out from the dressing room to the warm-up area to face the waiting media pack – if they so wish.

Nathan Cleary could have sat it out and denied all interview requests as he stewed over his worst performance in a NSW jumper on Wednesday night.

Or ducked out a rear entrance and into the night.

Many a losing player has opted for one or the other to avoid the scrutiny.

That's not Cleary's style.

They say quarterbacks own the result in American football and a half-back's role in rugby league is not dissimilar.

Cleary owned the 16-10 loss to Queensland, as painful as it was, even though there were other mitigating factors at play.

"Any time the team loses I will take that personally and I definitely didn’t play well," he said.

"My performance can lift others around me and I wasn’t good enough.

"I didn’t play well enough and that affects the result. It is on me to get better and if I am better the rest of the team is too."

Nathan Cleary detractors off the mark after State of Origin I

It was as candid an admission as you'll ever hear from a player in a losing side.

Yet the pile-on from anti-Cleary fans, unable to see past club loyalties, is relentless.

After one below par performance, apparently the 24-year-old can’t fire in big games.

He's a flat-track bully, they claim.

Punt him for game two, they say, and replace him with….you tell us.

It’s tall poppy syndrome in overdrive.

Nathan Cleary has admitted he wasn't up to scratch in State of Origin game one, and vowed to improve next time out in Perth. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
Nathan Cleary has admitted he wasn't up to scratch in State of Origin game one, and vowed to improve next time out in Perth. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Cleary was part of a grand final-winning side last year, picking up the Clive Churchill Medal in the process after finishing second behind Tom Trbojevic in the Dally Ms.

He was a key member of the 2021 NSW Origin side, playing in big wins in games one and two before the Blues lost without him in game three.

In all games, he's tasted defeat just three times in the past two seasons.

How's that for standing up in big games?

Even the great players have the odd stinker.

Cleary's really bad days can be counted on one hand.

He won't turn in another one in Perth.

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