Cleary survives, as new Blues blooded
Nathan Cleary has retained his NSW State of Origin No.7 jumper with coach Brad Fittler naming the 21-year-old and five debutants in his side for State of Origin I.
Cleary had been under pressure to keep his spot after his club side Penrith’s lacklustre start to the season, the Panthers sitting second last on the NRL ladder.
With Mitchell Pearce (groin) and Luke Keary (concussion) ruled out, Cleary was named to partner South Sydney’s Cody Walker in the halves.
Cleary was picked ahead of the Rabbitohs’ Adam Reynolds, who picked up a leg injury in his side’s match against Wests Tigers on Saturday night, but was understood to be available for selection.
Walker is one of five debutants along with Rabbitohs teammate Cameron Murray, Canberra pair Nick Cotric and Jack Wighton and Brisbane young gun Payne Haas.
The Roosters’ Angus Crichton edged out St George Illawarra’s Tariq Sims for a spot on the bench.
There’s expected to be question marks over the fitness of Tyson Frizell, the Dragon under an injury cloud after being knocked out in a sickening head clash with Josh Dugan during his side’s match against Cronulla on Sunday.
The team will be captained by Boyd Cordner and includes 11 players from the squad that won last year’s series, while Josh Morris returns to the Origin arena after a three-year absence.
State of Origin I will played at Suncorp Stadium on June 5. Queensland names its side on Monday.
NSW: James Tedesco, Nick Cotric, Latrell Mitchell, Josh Morris, Josh Addo-Carr, Cody Walker, Nathan Cleary, David Klemmer, Damien Cook, Paul Vaughan, Boyd Cordner, Tyson Frizell, Jake Trbojevic. Interchange: Jack Wighton, Payne Haas, Cameron Murray, Angus Crichton.
Gold Coast’s come-from-behind win against Manly may have just saved the job of coach Garth Brennan, at least for now.
Pressure has been mounting on Brennan after a terrible start to the season. But the Titans stunned the competition when they rallied from 12-0 down at Brookvale to sink the Sea Eagles 36-18.
Brennan may still get the chop later in the year, with a review to be undertaken by Mal Meninga. But for now he can sit a little easier.
Big night in Brisbane the spur for Inglis seeking help
The sad and alarming tale of Greg Inglis going off the rails in Brisbane was apparently the catalyst for the recently retired star to seek help.
According to The Sunday Mail, Inglis “vanished” for three days as he went partying in the Queensland capital.
The ex-Souths star, who recently retired, had his girlfriend and Souths officials searching for him for days to no avail.
After being located, Inglis has now checked into a Sydney rehab clinic to deal with mental health and alcohol issues. We wish GI the best.
Knights on fire
Newcastle Knights are back in a big way after upsetting Sydney Roosters 36-12, for their fifth win in a row.
The Knights had been inconsistent early this year, but they have caught fire of late with the scalps of the Dragons, Bulldogs, Warriors, Eels and the chooks.
Again it was the classy pair of Mitchell Pearce and Kalyn Ponga leading the way. If their form holds it could well be the year of the Knight.
The NRL gaffed last weekend after it was revealed that James Segeyaro debuted for Brisbane even though he was unregistered.
Segeyaro made a big impact on debut, scoring the match-winning try against the Roosters, but he shouldn’t have played.
Under NRL rules, a player’s existing club must sign a clearance form in order to have a contract registered with a rival club.
According to News Limited, this wasn’t actually done until after the hooker debuted. Talk about a brain explosion.
Smith the GOAT
Cameron Smith walked out on Belmore Oval for his 500th first-class professional match as Melbourne Storm took on the Dogs.
Smith has played 395 NRL games and has 105 representative caps, for Queensland and Australia – an unbelievable record.
At 35 years old, he turns 36 next month, the hooker is still running rings around opponents almost half his age.
Enjoy Smith while you can because he is one of a kind, one of the greatest rugby league players ever. We may not ever see another player, as smart, durable and successful again.