Luke Keary backs Nathan Cleary to shake off his Grand Final baggage in time for opener
Luke Keary backs Nathan Cleary to shake off his Grand Final baggage in time for opener

‘Nobody has died’: Why Cleary will shake off heartbreak

Luke Keary has backed Nathan Cleary to enter NSW Origin camp without any lingering grand final baggage, stressing: "Nobody has died".

Favoured to partner Cleary in the halves for Origin I, Keary has rejected suggestions the Penrith No.7 should be left out of the Adelaide opener on November 4.

Speaking after Blues training on Monday, the Roosters No.6 insisted Cleary would be ready to go despite a disappointing grand final performance - which included an intercept pass allowing Melbourne winger Suliasi Vunivalu to score.

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The grand final defeat was particularly tough on Nathan Cleary.
The grand final defeat was particularly tough on Nathan Cleary.

Asked if the Panthers halfback should be among the first Blues selected, Keary replied: "I don't pick the team but he'll be fine.

"Nobody has died. It's rugby league.

"You win some, you lose some. A lot of players have lost big games … he'll be fine."

Asked if he used the NRL decider to analyse the man tipped to be his Origin halves partner, Keary continued: "To be honest I haven't thought about it much.

"I don't want to get too far ahead of myself.

"For the grand final, I watched it as fan like you.

"(Laughs) It was the first time I've been sober for one, too."

So you're not a fan of watching grand finals you aren't in?

"Haven't watched one," he added, still grinning.

"But those two teams deserved to be there. They were the two best teams all year.

"Personally, it's just good now to be back in Blues camp. Obviously I wasn't here last year but had a taste the year before.

"And because NSW has had the same core group for a couple of years now, it's good. I know how it all works."

Elsewhere, Keary and fellow Roosters star James Tedesco spoke about the "opportunity" for a new Tricolours No.7 in 2021 following the shock departure of Kyle Flanagan to Canterbury.

With their regular halfback suddenly moved on, the battle now begins between rising stars Lachlan Lam and Sam Walker.

While refusing to be drawn on the Flanagan saga, Keary said he was excited by the prospect of spending summer working alongside the two youngsters.

"Sammy is only 18 but, coming into the system this year, you can already see how good he is going to be," Keary said.

"And Lachy, he's been in the system a long time now and is a good player.

"I'm excited to work with them."

Tedseco agreed, adding: "Lachie really had a breakout year.

"This year he played in the middle, played hooker, played in the halves - and every time he was impressive.

"So he's definitely got an opportunity there now.

"Sammy Walker too is a talented young kid who has been impressive at training skills wise. He's very good to watch.

"He has another year or two of development but could be really special."

Despite his standing at the Roosters, Keary insisted he would not play a role in deciding who partnered him in the halves for the 2021 NRL season.

"No, that's not my job," he said.

"Plus I think that stuff will get sorted throughout the pre-season with how they train.

"In these situations you usually see one bloke step up.

"It's not left to a choice by the end of it."



'50/50': Tedesco's Origin fitness deadline revealed


Roosters star James Tedesco has been rated only a "50/50 chance" for game one of the 2020 State of Origin series - which puts Clive Churchill medallist Ryan Papenhuyzen in line for a shock NSW debut.

Blues coach Brad Fittler will give Tedesco until Saturday to prove he has overcome a Grade 2 medial injury suffered in the NRL playoffs against Canberra.

Arriving at Blues training on Tuesday with his left knee heavily strapped, the 27-year-old completed a series of straight-line running drills away from the rest of the group.

However, speaking afterwards, Tedesco stressed he was "feeling confident" and determined to play in all three games of the Origin series.

Yet with Papenhuyzen arriving in camp on Wednesday after starring in Melbourne's Grand Final win, Fittler admitted his incumbent No.1 still has "some convincing" to do.

The Blues coach added his decision could be impacted by the depth of talent at his disposal, which includes not only Papenhuyzen but Dally M Fullback Clint Gutherson.


James Tedesco has until Saturday to prove his fitness. Picture: Jonathan Ng
James Tedesco has until Saturday to prove his fitness. Picture: Jonathan Ng


Asked to place a figure on Tedesco's chances, Fittler replied: "I think it's 50/50.

"So I'm trying to stay away from him.

"Otherwise I'd just be harassing him all the time, asking 'how is the knee, how is the knee?'.

"But we've also got Gutho, and then Ryan Papenhuyzen gets into camp so we've got depth.

"A lot of good players.

"So he (Tedesco) will have to do some convincing."

Fittler said the presence of Papenhuyzen and Gutherson meant he would not be risking Tedesco if he wasn't 100 per cent ready for the opener on November 4 in Adelaide.

"We don't need to have (the Tedesco injury) playing on our heads - that 'will he be right?'," he said.

"But then, it's Teddy.

"He obviously has the experience in Origin and that counts, no doubt."

Tedesco, meanwhile, remains confident of proving his worth by Saturday's key fitness test.

"I want to be there for all three," he said. "That's the goal and what has been in my head (throughout camp).


Ryan Papenhuyzen is shaping up for a shock debut. Picture: Cameron Spencer/Getty
Ryan Papenhuyzen is shaping up for a shock debut. Picture: Cameron Spencer/Getty


"If it's no good, it's no good.

"But I'm feeling confident.

"Today I just wanted to get it moving, wanted to tick that off and it felt pretty good.

"It felt really stable and strong.

"Thursday will be more volume, then Saturday it's lateral movement and stepping.

"So that will be the big one. Saturday will be the big test.

"But I'm feeling good."



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While Tedesco has had his share of problems with the left knee - "ACL, knee cap, it's not a great one" - he also takes confidence from the fact he finished the Raiders match.

He said the injury occurred during a carry midway through the second half when "I got taken back a bit, put my leg out landed awkwardly".

"I got a pain but thought it was groin," he recounted. "That went away but then as I started running again the knee felt weird.

"But running was still fine, so that gives me confidence.

"There was 20 minutes there running around to finish the game."


Originally published as 'Nobody has died': Why Cleary will shake off heartbreak