True Blue and Eighth Immortal has heaped praise on Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues halfback Nathan Cleary after claiming he cannot remember a more dominant kicking game from a NSW No.7 in the 40-year history of State of Origin.
Cleary’s place in the team was questioned externally after the Blues lost the opening game of the series 18-14 in Adelaide but he responded in style in Game Two in Sydney last night after tormenting Queensland with the boot on the way to an impressive 34-10 victory.
The NSW No.7 kicked for 475 metres, forced two drop outs, landed a 40-20, and five goals in a man of the match performance that also included a line break and a line break assist.
“I can imagine Nathan Cleary was under pressure this week, and would have felt the pressure, but stood up and answered all his critics, did what his team needed and his state needed and just led from the front,” Johns told the Nine Network.
“His kicking game was the best I’ve seen from a NSW half in all my time watching footy.
“The courage to kick on early kicks and back himself, and not only once or twice but three or four times he did it, he took the line on, he defended strong, he was a 9-out-of-10 performance.
“He just stood up and he made a lot of people eat their words and I’m really proud of the way he played tonight.”