As speculation about the make-up of the Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues reaches a highpoint, assistant coach Danny Buderus may have provided fans with a major spoiler regarding two of the most important positions on the field.
Discussions surrounding the make-up of the NSW halves pairing had, as always, been unrelenting throughout the opening 12 weeks of the season, with as many as 10 players suggested at various times to fill either of the two key playmaking roles. Speaking on Fox League’s The Late Show with Matty Johns, however, Buderus strongly suggested that the shortlist has been reduced to three candidates: James Maloney, Nathan Cleary and Luke Keary.
“I think to beat Queensland you’ve got to be always around the ball, you’ve got to have someone on the ball,” Buderus said. “‘Jimmy’ Maloney does that really well, Nathan Cleary does that well and you’ve got (Luke) Keary doing it as well, so it’s down to probably three of those guys.
“You’ve got this weekend to really nail that home. You still have to get through 80 minutes here, so it’s a testing time for everyone involved at NSW – but you’d like to see them playing good footy.”
Buderus stopped short of confirming any players’ place in the side for Game One – although head coach Brad Fittler earlier declared incumbent captain Boyd Cordner a certain selection for the series opener. The former NSW and Australian hooker also appeared to shed light on the side's back line, which could include both James Tedesco and Tom Trbojevic.
After Keary’s Roosters face the Titans to kick off Saturday’s play from 3pm, Maloney’s and Cleary’s Panthers will take on the table-topping Dragons from 7.35pm. Both matches look destined to have major Origin ramifications.