James Maloney and Nathan Cleary after NSW State of Origin training at the new NSWRL Centre of Excellence training ground at Homebush. Picture. Phil Hillyard
James Maloney and Nathan Cleary after NSW State of Origin training at the new NSWRL Centre of Excellence training ground at Homebush. Picture. Phil Hillyard

Buzz: Cleary Origin conversation is over

As debate continues to rage surrounding the form of incumbent New South Wales halves James Maloney and Nathan Cleary, Phil Rothfield believes there can be no more conjecture and their current form is simply not good enough.

Speaking on The Monday Bunker regarding Penrith's finals chances after a tough start to the year, Rothfield slammed the series-winning halves, saying he believed there was no longer a debate to be had and Brad Fittler must turn to more in-form options.

 

"I've got serious doubts. You look at the halves, I don't think there's a conversation now to be had with Maloney and Cleary in terms of Origin," Rothfield said.

"I think if it was close he'd go with the incumbent but I don't think he can. I think Keary's an absolute certainty, play him at halfback and on the left with either Cody Walker or the South Sydney halfback Adam Reynolds on the right."

Maloney and Cleary have struggled for form all season and hit a new low in the 30-12 loss to Canberra on the weekend with Maloney copping two separate judiciary charges for foul play born of frustration.

Cleary has struggled to put his best form together. Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images.
Cleary has struggled to put his best form together. Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images.

Triple M's Dan Ginnane conceded the duo were badly out of form but pointed out New South Wales had burned many a young half in the past by discarding them too quickly.

"I just know over the years New South Wales have burned young halves - Terry Campese, Peter Wallace, Brett Finch - they give them a go and they toss them away," Ginnane said.

"Is Freddy going to do that with Nathan Cleary?"