Clinton Maynard: Can Cleary and Maloney keep their Origin jerseys?

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Just three rounds of the NRL have been completed and already league fans are debating who should be in the NSW State of Origin team.
Off the back of a rare series win it would be natural for coach Brad Fittler to stay loyal to last year’s players.

However a year is a long time in football and much has changed. Freddy admits he can’t be picking a team almost 10 weeks out, injuries and form will play a part over the coming weeks, however he has left the door open to adjusting the structure of the side and it’s a Sydney Rooster who could lead him to make a change.

With Nathan Cleary and James Maloney taking last season’s club form into Origin, the Blues defeated Queensland, but with the way the Panthers are playing can NSW afford to stick with the halves combination this year?

James Maloney and Nathan Cleary. Photo: NRL Photos

Penrith coach Ivan Cleary described his side’s performance against Melbourne last week as “inept”, the team seems to lack on-field leadership and the side’s backline has failed to score a try in the opening three games.

Responsibility for those failings must fall on the side’s halves.
After the opening games Rooster Luke Keary is proving to be the NRL’s leading half whether playing 7 or 6.

His performances in the last two games without the leadership of Cooper Cronk have been outstanding, backing up what his did with a one armed Cronk in last year’s Grand Final.

James Maloney has been one of my favourite players for years, but at 32, 33 during the Origin series and rumours this will be his last year in the NRL, it might be time for Jimmy to hand over his Origin jersey.

Clinton Maynard is a presenter on Macquarie Sports Radio.

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