Luke Keary says his football intelligence has grown by being handed the halfback role following a hamstring strain to his Roosters halves partner Cooper Cronk.
The three-time premiership-winner will be back to face the Broncos at the SCG on Thursday, but in his absence Keary has come alive as a halfback, sprouting a new-found game awareness from his regular No.6 duties.
The results have been wins over Manly and Parramatta, where Keary pulled off four try assists. Another side effect is he's come to the attention of Blues coach Brad Fittler, who conceded on the Footy Show on Sunday that Keary was in the conversation for a potential Origin debut.
"I’ve learned a lot about football," he said on Sunday. "Obviously as No.6 I don’t really think about too much other than what is happening in front of me at that point in time.
"As a No.7, you have to be thinking a couple of plays, a couple of sets in advance as to where we want to finish and how we want to start [sets], how the game is feeling, flowing, how we are feeling and how they’re feeling.
"I’ve learnt a lot about rugby league, to be honest, and how football actually works."
It's that kind of practical experience of switching from five-eighth to halfback and back again that will endear Keary to Fittler – especially with the fluttering form of incumbent halves Nathan Cleary and James Maloney.
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"The things Luke Keary does is he can play both positions," Fittler said on Channel 9.
"He plays five-eighth really well, he played five-eighth when Souths won the comp, he played five-eighth for a couple of years outside Mitchell [Pearce], he's been coached by Joey [Andrew Johns], he knows exactly what to do as a five-eighth.
"But as we can see, he's a brilliant halfback."
His Roosters teammates have also noticed Keary's new stature as a commander of their ship.
"He’s evolved as a player. He was probably just a running five-eighth a few years ago – now he’s turned into a good, controlling halfback," fullback James Tedesco said after Sunday's training session.
"His leadership has grown and strengthened, the way he’s led the boys around.
"He has the control as a halfback and he can also run and cause some trouble with his passing and kicking as well.
"He’s sort of been the complete player – he’s been real impressive in the start to the season."
As for the Origin talk, Keary is used to it as he was included in Fittler's extended squad last season.
"It's cool to be talked about. I don't hear it too much. It can only be a good thing if people are talking about you for rep stuff," Keary said.
"As a player you try not to listen to it too much, you keep your head down.
"I've had it for a while now, even since I was a bit younger. To be honest it doesn't affect me too much at all."
And as for the question that has been thrown at him a myriad of times the past fortnight since the round two Manly win – are you a No.6 or No.7?
"I’ve never enjoyed playing No.7. I think I am starting to - I’m a bit older now - so I think I’m starting to understand a bit more about the role," he said.
"I do enjoy playing No.6. I enjoy the freedom and being able to pick my moments. But it’s been an enjoyable couple of weeks, being able to play that role, learn it and have a bit of help in the background with it."