Eighth Immortal Andrew Johns has revealed his halves picks for the NSW Blues if he picked the pair right now, with a surprising snub.
Johns is a consultant with the Blues, and has been a prominent figure in the revival of the side following years of Queensland’s State of Origin dominance.
Speaking in his regular segment on Wide World of Sports, Immortal Behaviour, Johns picked the halves pairing he would select today to lead the Blues against the Maroons.
While he agreed that five-eighth Luke Keary of the Roosters and halfback Nathan Cleary of the Panthers are the two form playmakers in the NRL at the moment, Johns urged selectors not to overlook Knights no.7 Mitchell Pearce.
“I think Mitchell Pearce has got a say in that. Mitchell put that last play on [in last year’s Origin series that NSW won] when Tedesco scored in Game Three, so Mitchell may deserve his spot as the incumbent, but there’s some really good players knocking on the door,” Johns said.
Johns said Cleary has been very impressive in recent weeks for Penrith, but preferred the one-two punch of Keary and Pearce for the Blues.
“Nathan last week against South Sydney had a real presence about him, a calmness, and he looks like out-and-out the best player on the field,” Johns said.
“Keary, even though he wears the number 6, he’s the primary playmaker at the Roosters. Keary will be there for sure if he’s injury free, and then at halfback it’ll be Nathan or Mitchell.
“But if I had to pick today, I’d go Pearce and Keary.
“Pearce is a right field player and I think he’s in a great time in his career and Keary is an excitement machine on the left, and he plays with [NSW stars] Boyd Cordner and James Tedesco.”
The 2020 State of Origin series was postponed from it’s usual mid-year scheduling to November 4, 11, and 18 due to the coronavirus pandemic.