Wayne Bennett's free advice for Freddy.
Wayne Bennett's free advice for Freddy.

Bennett’s savage call on Blues halves

Brad Fittler - Wayne Bennett has some State of Origin advice for you.

The 69-year-old super coach has called for the NSW Blues to wield the axe and cut incumbent halves Nathan Cleary and James Maloney for the Origin series.

Bennett, who has coached 819 first grade games and 21 games for Queensland, has joined the chorus of unsolicited advice for Fittler with too many other players begging for the call up.

"I'm living in NSW now so I'm getting indoctrinated into all the Blues talk," Bennett said through a smirk in the post-match press conference. "In all fairness to everybody, and I'll say what no one else wants to say, they cannot pick the halfback and five-eighth from last year.

"What they do after that I don't know. But they are key players in that club and the club aren't playing well and they're not playing well. There are too many quality players in this competition that happen to wear NSW jerseys for those guys to have to be picked."

While Fittler has been fielding advice from every corner of the NRL world over his upcoming selection conundrum, suggestions from Bennett come with substantial weight.

As for who Bennett wants to put forward, look no further than South Sydney with Damian Cook set to be the hooker.

Plenty of love between Walker and Cook.
Plenty of love between Walker and Cook.

While he was adamant he wasn't pushing any of his players specifically, Bennett made sure to talk up his stars Cody Walker and Adam Reynolds, who held on for a finals like 16-12 win over the Canberra Raiders.

"I don't know what they'll do but that's the talk and it may only be talk," he said. "But I coached Origin, I coached seven series of it so I kind of know how it works and I know this much that you've got Cody playing so well, Reynolds playing great and a couple of others from other clubs playing some great football and last years' pair who were in great form last year are no where near that. Way off it.

"The positions they play, if you think you can go and play an Origin game in that type of form and be stars, it's not going to happen. If they're forwards then maybe but not key playmakers. They're all about confidence and you've either got it or you haven't got it."

Bennett reiterated he wasn't pushing anyone because they would be selected on merit when young forward Cam Murray was put up as a possible selection.

Bennett lashed out again at Cleary and Maloney, who's Panthers have only managed two wins for the season and sit in last on the latter with the worst attacking record in the league.

Ouch — that hurts Wayne.
Ouch — that hurts Wayne.

"The point I'm making is that the people who matter most need to stop talking about last years' pairing because they're terribly out of form," Bennett said. "It's a pity but this happens. It's happened to good players before and it'll happen to players in the future. They'll get their form back but it's not going to happen in an Origin game I can tell you."

He also talked about Luke Keary and a few others but said it's "too big a risk and it's not worth the risk", adding other players were performing well.

As for any advice for Cleary, Bennett was savage.

"I'm not coaching him," Bennett grumbled.


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