Rugby League

Johns lauds Cleary’s Game II as ‘one of Blues’ best ever’ as Freddy’s faith comes full circle

Matty Johns has lauded Nathan Cleary’s performance in Origin II as one of the best he has seen by a NSW playmaker, while Ivan Cleary wrapped Brad Fittler for keeping the faith.

Cleary came into Game II under immense pressure after the Blues’ shock series opening loss, but inspired NSW to a series levelling win in a man-of-the-match display.

“In my opinion it was the best performance of his football career,” Johns said on 1170 SEN’s Morning Glory with Matty Johns show.

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“In fact, I think it was one of the best performances I’ve seen from a Blues playmaker.”

Johns’ sentiments were echoed by Nathan’s father and Panthers coach Ivan Cleary, who was on hand to watch his son at ANZ Stadium.

“I’ve obviously watched him a lot over the years, his whole first grade career and now I coach him,” Cleary Senior said.

“He looked as in control last night as any game that I’ve ever watched him.

“To do it at that level and under those circumstances, I’m very proud of him.


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“We’re now looking forward for him to take that confidence up to Suncorp (in Game 3), which is going to be something else again next week.”

Cleary senior paid tribute to the faith Blues coach Brad Fittler showed in the early stages of Nathan’s Origin career that led to his breakout performance for the Blues in Game II.

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“It was the most he has ever been under pressure easily and Freddy has got to get a big wrap because originally three years ago when Freddy took over the first thing he had to do was change the culture of the team,” Cleary said.

Nathan Cleary and Cody Walker combined brilliantly in Game II.Source:Getty Images

“He brought in all those new guys and Nathan was one of those where it was clear he wasn’t going to be the finished product for a long time and yet Freddy has been absolutely rock solid with him.

“I think it is good for Freddy to see the way Nathan played that the plan he put in place because he put Nathan in there not so much because he was going to be an Origin playmaker straight away.

“But he just did stuff that fit in with the culture and he makes his tackles and competes and all that sort of stuff and now you are starting to see the fruits of that loyalty.”

Originally published asMatty Johns: Nathan Cleary played one of the best Origin games I’ve ever seen

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