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Cleary can have his own Origin 'pick me' moment if he backs himself

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The battle to partner Luke Keary in the halves for NSW is a race of three: Nathan Cleary, Adam Reynolds and Cody Walker. Thursday's night’s match between Penrith and Parramatta is a massive opportunity for Nathan to send a clear message to coach Brad Fittler.

I got to know Nathan better around Origin last year when he was picked to make his debut for NSW.

Despite his age, he's very steady: he’s strong defensively and has a good kicking game. He just needs to find himself in attack, deciding when to run and when to pass.

Decisions, decisions: Nathan Cleary is under immense pressure to retain the NSW No.7 jersey.Credit:AAP

I had a yarn to him during Magic Round earlier this month and the discussion went like this: “Mate, when you’re down on confidence you start second-guessing yourself. What you have to do is go with your first instinct. If your first instinct is to kick on the second tackle when you’re attacking the line, then kick. You're getting the ball and thinking about the long pass to your centre but you keep pulling it back. Trust your first instinct.”

Same message for him tonight: back yourself.

There’s no James Maloney because of suspension, so the whole team is on Nathan’s shoulders. He can form a great combination Maloney’s replacement, Jarome Luai, who he........

© Brisbane Times