When the NSW VB Blues team for Origin I was announced yesterday evening, there was unsurprisingly no shortage of talking points. The return of a superstar from the NFL, a contentious halfback currently in the form of his life, a debutant hooker and the welcoming of the state’s 19th captain were the biggest headlines to come from a side which will inevitably be hard to beat. One man, however, in jersey no.19, went largely unnoticed: Melbourne Storm prop Jordan McLean.
At 25 years of age, McLean is not a new face on the NRL circuit. With 75 appearances under his belt across five seasons, he sits alongside current VB Blues Jack Bird, Jake Trbojevic, David Klemmer and James Tedesco as players yet to crack the 100-game mark in the top grade. A VB Country Origin jersey also gave him a taste of representative Rugby League in 2016.
When Mal Meninga selected McLean as 18th man for his Kangaroos squad earlier in the month, it raised some eyebrows – and now the Young Cherrypickers junior finds himself on an extended bench yet again for Laurie Daley’s side. As NSW True Blue Steve Roach explains, however, there is a very good reason he is in the frame for an eventual Origin debut.
“McLean finds his front better than anyone in the NRL,” Roach tells NSWRL.com.au. “He’s averaging 10 runs a game for 115 metres – that’s phenomenal, most blokes are doing 20 hit-ups (for similar metres).
“That’s the same sort of work that they do down in Melbourne. He’s a great player, no doubt about that.”
McLean’s inclusion in camp is yet another exciting prospect for VB Blues fans and his quick play-the-balls are sure to attract attention for the remainder of the season. Alongside incumbent five-eighth Matt Moylan and Dragons lock Jack de Belin, Roach believes Daley has made the right call on his extended bench.
“The good thing about this squad, even if I’m in the team I’m looking over my shoulder thinking I’ve got to play well, otherwise I’m not here,” Roach says. “It’s hard to fit them all in because they’re all such great players.”
McLean arrived in camp at Kingscliff today along with the rest of the squad, where he will gain invaluable taste of the environment in the lead up to next week’s series opener.