Cleary insists 'we haven't done anything yet' after sparkling display silences critics

By Sports Desk November 11, 2020

Nathan Cleary insists New South Wales have won nothing yet after he inspired his side to a 34-10 victory over Queensland on Wednesday to level the State of Origin series.

The Penrith Panthers halfback was named man of the match after leading the Blues to victory in Sydney with some outstanding kicking.

Cleary's place in the side had come under scrutiny in the build-up after he went into the contest with the record of being the first New South Wales half in history to go without a try assist or linebreak assist in his opening six Origin games.

However, the 22-year-old responded with some sublime playmaking, kicked four conversions out of six and sent over a late penalty to cap a commanding win.

His display led past Origins star Andrew Johns, who was one of those critics to call for his replacement this week, to describe Cleary's kicking performance as the finest by a Blues player in the history of the contest.

"I think we blocked that [talk] out pretty well this week," Cleary said afterwards.

"That's the pleasure of kind of being away in camp, surrounded by a great bunch of blokes, great coaching staff and just having to focus on ourselves.

"It's no different this week. We haven't done anything yet - we still have a game to win up in Queensland.

"We weren't happy with where we were finishing our sets down in Adelaide. That's what Origin football is about.

"When you have [Josh Addo-Carr] and that on the wings you can utilise it but, having said that, we just wanted to work together and to get to spots on the field where we thought we could get our best kicks off. I thought we did that really well."

Queensland had gone ahead through a stunning Xavier Coates try but were second best from then on, as Cody Walker, James Tedesco, Jack Wighton and Daniel Tupou all scored a try apiece while Addo-Carr got a double.

In his first game as captain, Tedesco was proud of the renewed efforts of his side after their 18-14 loss in the series opener in Adelaide.

"We think we were a bit complacent," he said. "We were really disappointed in that first game and we wanted to show more heart and pride in the jersey. I think we did that."

The decider takes place in Brisbane in a week's time.

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    1,295 – Smith stands alone for goals kicked in the NRL – 353 more than any other player in premiership history.

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    2 – Smith was crowned the NRL's best and fairest player in 2006 and 2017. Only Thurston (four) and Andrew Johns (three) earned more honours.

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