NRL Podcast: Cleary and Hunt the halves under most pressure

Jamie Soward knows what it's like to suffer from an Origin hangover.

In 2011 almost went from New South Wales five-eighth to NRL discard when then St George Illawarra Dragons coach Wayne Bennett threatened to drop him.

Having gone through it himself, Soward says Panthers playmaker Nathan Cleary and Dragons halfback Ben Hunt have struggled in the aftermath of this year's Holden State of Origin series.

"Nathan Cleary looked tired last week (against Newcastle) and I think he was adjusting to not having James Maloney's voice there," Soward told the NRL Podcast.

"It's his second full year (in the NRL). It's his first big injury, and off the back of his first big injury he played two weeks, and went into State of Origin, won a series, came out, and we expect him to be the best halfback in the world.

"If this coaching change (from Anthony Griffin to Cameron Ciraldo) had of happened straight out of Origin, I think he would've been rested a little bit more."

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As for Hunt.

"Getting dropped (as Queensland halfback) took it out of him, and he went back to being that utility for Queensland," Soward said.

"He was bought as the missing piece and when you're bought as the missing piece, you're right there to win a premiership.

"He needs to lift his level a little bit. He needs to get into the game early."

Soward, Zac Bailey and Inside the NRL host Katie Brown also discussed the ongoing talk surrounding Manly Sea Eagles coach Trent Barrett, the importance for the Melbourne Storm to re-sign Cameron Munster, reflect on the career of Johnathan Thurston and preview round 24 action.