Cooper Cronk’s famous broken scapula could be the best thing to happen to Luke Keary.
Aside from the heroic performance of his halves partner playing injured or the Premiership ring he earned later that night, Keary proved he could steer around a team at halfback and has a Clive Churchill Medal to prove it.
Cronk didn’t play last week against Manly, and once again Keary took total control with a massive four try assists to his name.
That ability earned him Australian selection last year where he was one of the better players across the two games. The next box to tick is State of Origin, and the coach had his eye on him well before the Grand Final.
“ He was with our squad last year, and what he has shown is that he can play halfback,” Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues coach Brad Fittler told nswrl.com.au
“The couple of games where Cooper Cronk hasn't really been there - the Grand Final Cooper played a different role, he didn’t really play the halfback - Luke Keary just kicked them into position and was in total control.
“He was like that against Manly, the moment Luke went off they lost control and Manly got back into the game.
“He’s just shown that he can play numerous positions, especially in the halves, and he can do an incredible job.”
If it wasn’t enough to step up and take control of a game without Cronk at Lottoland last week, the wet and windy conditions made it difficult.
One of four try assists caught the eye of Fittler, but it was another part of his game we don’t usually see that impressed the Origin coach.
“His kicking at Brookvale in the wet was just incredible,” Fittler said.
“The try he put on for Boyd Cordner, the impressive part about that was three blokes had tried to trick pass before.
“That showed the conditions how bad they were and all of a sudden he popped through, two blokes giving him attention he pops the ball and they score the try.
“It shows you his level of class.”
The incumbent halves pairing of James Maloney and Nathan Cleary did a fantastic job last year, and that will be taken into serious consideration come team selection time.
With Keary knocking on the door, Fittler has made it clear the winners from last year still need to be up for their clubs to be considered in the future.
“We need the best players, we’re trying to get to that and our blokes were so good last year and you can see some of them have gone to a new level with their football and a lot of it depends on their club.
“The big thing is that we need leaders, so they play good at Origin and go back and improve their footy team. Not just players who are going to play great for a couple of weeks, players who are going to be great for a long time and inspire kids.
“James Maloney was fantastic on the weekend it was a super inspirational performance.”