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‘I haven’t been disappointed with many of his games this year’: Fittler firm on Origin half

New South Wales Origin coach Brad ‘Freddy’ Fittler says a lot has been said about his incumbent origin halfback who is, in Freddy’s eyes, performing as well as ever.

“It seems like a lot has been spoken about the young kid Nathan [Cleary]” Freddy told Levy and Piggy on Breakfast.

“I watch their games differently to the normal punter but he’s not doing that much different to what he does in the past, his game’s always been based on effort.

“The fact is he’s got to rally his troops, they’ve got to come up with more than effort.”

Nathan Cleary’s Panthers have had an appalling season to date, having chalked up just two wins from 10 matches, and debate is raging over whether Cleary has shown the form expected of an Origin halfback.

Daily Telegraph rugby league scribe Phil ‘Buzz’ Rothfield told Macquarie Sports Radio he’s stunned by the strong mail that Fittler and his fellow Origin selectors will stick with Nathan Cleary based on his current form.

“I think, if that’s happening, it’s almost disrespectful to the NSW jersey. There are so many halfbacks in superior form.” Rothfield said.

Fittler sees things differently, and despite admitting the Panthers are “in a world of pain” at the moment, Clearly doesn’t deserve to shoulder the blame.

“He’s stood up every game,” he said.

“I haven’t been disappointed with many of his games this year.”

Outside the halves pairing, Fittler says there are still a couple of spots in the Blues team which are still up for grabs before the squad is announced at 6:00pm on Sunday night.

“You never know what’s going to happen, there’s injuries and if you go into Magic Round there about 20 injuries, so you just don’t know if it’s going to be one of those rounds.

“That’s another reason why we don’t mention any names because we don’t want to put the pox on people.”

Picking players is a heady mixture of art, science, and gut feel. Some will argue form is the only measure which matters, while others will point out that those who stepped up in Origin before cam step up again.

Freddy freely admits there are many criteria employed when deciding who will pull on a Blues jumper.

“It all counts, we went over some old State of Origin games last night and the players in that did a really good job, so it all counts, we’re all pretty open and honest,

“We feel like we’ve been given a responsibility and we’re giving it every possible thought and all of our integrity.

“It’s a really good process and I really enjoy it.”

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