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Experts' view: Who should be NSW halves duo

Normally at this time of year State of Origin would be in full swing and debate would be raging about team selections.

This year's series will be played in November but there has already been plenty of conjecture about who's looking good and who's not when it comes to choosing each squad.

The NSW halves combination is an annual hot topic as there are always plenty of options for Blues selectors to run their eyes over.'s experts have their say on which players are the frontrunners to wear jerseys No.6 and No.7 for NSW.

Experts view - Blues halves

Steve Renouf (Maroons legend)

For me it’s Mitchell Moses and Nathan Cleary. Moses has been the form half for a while now and Blues coach Brad Fittler is a fan of him. Cleary always delivers so these two great halves would form a very good partnership.

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Jamie Soward (former Blues five-eighth)

When you have been in two origin series and won both you deserve the right to hold your jumper. Brad Fittler will want to see improvement in Nathan Cleary's game but he will be partnering the best five-eighth in the world in Luke Keary. With his speed and creativity on the left edge and combinations with Boyd Cordner, this is a no-brainer at the moment.

Brad Walter ( senior reporter)

Mitchell Moses and Luke Keary: Moses has been the form halfback for the past 12 months with Parramatta and Keary is a three-time premiership winner who rarely plays a bad game.

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Troy Whittaker ( reporter)

Luke Keary is the game’s best five-eighth and his three premiership rings are evidence he thrives under pressure. He thoroughly deserves his shot at Origin. Nathan Cleary has done the job previously and should keep the No.7 jersey, with his steady game-management style a nice fit for the creative Keary.

Importantly, he is also a fantastic defender. (Plus, it’ll be great to hear the legendary Ray Warren calling their names in sequence.)

Margie McDonald ( senior reporter)

Big fan of Nathan Cleary but with no James Maloney there this year, former Roosters halves Mitchell Pearce and Luke Keary should reunite. You need that club connection – it’s what Penrith teammates Cleary and Maloney brought in 2018-19 and then when injury struck last series for NSW, Pearce was able to re-ignite that combo he had with Maloney from their Roosters days.

Paul Suttor ( editor)

Queensland would hate to see Jack Wighton lining up at five-eighth so Brad Fittler should give him the No.6 jersey. Big and strong like another old Raiders five-eighth who starred in Origin in the 1990s in Laurie Daley, he'd be the ideal foil for Nathan Cleary's organisational play from halfback.

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Kenny Scott ( podcaster)

In a wonderful rhyming couplet, it should be Nathan Cleary and Luke Keary that make up the NSW halves. Cleary, the man who was seemingly next in line for the long-term role has done nothing to warrant a change in heart from the coach, even taking into account the likely fine finals form of Mitchell Moses.

Keary is a proven match winner and has been integral to the success at the Roosters. This is even more evident this year as the Roosters blood their rookie halfback Kyle Flanagan. His quick game play and ability to deliver a pin-point sneaky pass make him the perfect foil for Cleary.

Martin Lenehan ( senior journalist)

Mitchell Pearce and Jack Wighton: The Knights No.7 has played 19 Origins and that experience is invaluable. After getting the monkey off his back last year Pearce deserves the chance to steer the Blues to a third straight series win.

Wighton was sensational in the centres last year but he’s equally potent in the No.6 jersey and that move would allow Brad Fittler to bring match-winner Latrell Mitchell back in at centre.

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Tanisha Stanton ( reporter)

Luke Keary will be the Blues five-eighth – his accolades speak for themselves. Mitchell Moses should partner him in the No.7 jersey, considering he can maintain his current form over the next 15 rounds and finals.

Lone Scout ( Fantasy guru)

This year’s schedule means the NRL ladder (and finals series) will likely play a big role in which players get the call-up for Origin. That puts someone like Luke Keary in the box seat for the No.6 jersey if the Roosters reach another grand final, while one of Brad Fittler’s favourites Mitch Moses may well leapfrog Nathan Cleary and Mitchell Pearce to the halfback spot should the Eels stick around at the top of the table this season.

Chris Kennedy ( reporter)

Mitch Moses and Nathan Cleary. It partly depends on what they do with Jack Wighton but he's better at centre or as  a utility with two genuine, out-and-out playmakers in Origin. For me that means a three-way battle between Cleary, Moses and Luke Keary.

Yes, Cleary has had a tough start to the year but as a series incumbent with runs on the board, does not warrant being dropped and you need some continuity. With the in-from Moses dominating, he edges Keary for the other spot but with the Roosters’ form, that could well change between now and November.

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Mary Konstantopoulos (Ladies Who League)

It's time for NSW to inject some new blood into the halves. Based on current form, my halves pairing is Mitch Moses and Luke Keary. Moses in the in-form halfback in the competition and thrives on confidence.

The sky is the limit for him when surrounded by the quality of players he would find in Blues camp. As for Keary, due to injury this call-up is way overdue. Jack Wighton should also be part of this conversation, but fortunately he is a player that can come off the bench and play more of a utility role.

Joel Gould ( reporter)

Three-time premiership winner Luke Keary is the best pivot in the game and an Origin debut is overdue. His partnership with the Roosters contingent in the NSW side will only enhance their attack.

NSW coach Brad Fittler has been waiting for Mitch Moses to find the consistency to go with his brilliance. Mission accomplished, so it is time for Moses to play halfback.

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Alicia Newton ( reporter)

Luke Keary and Nathan Cleary. Keary’s combination with Boyd Cordner on the left edge should give him a head start over Mitchell Moses and Cody Walker with Jack Wighton also there in the centres as an extra halves cover. Cleary pips Mitchell Pearce through goal kicking. 

Zac Bailey ( reporter)

Nathan Cleary and Luke Keary. NSW Blues coach Freddy Fittler loves the way Cleary plays the game.

As for Keary, consecutive concussions meant he wasn’t part of the selection process last year, but if he continues to star in a dominant Roosters team deep into the finals, Keary will wear the No.6 in November.


The views in this article do not necessarily express the opinions of the NRL, ARL Commission, NRL clubs or state associations.


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