Phil Gould reveals sad Grand Final loss truth in phone call with Blues half Nathan Cleary

The first State of Origin series played after a season has finished will put Penrith Panthers halfback Nathan Cleary right back in the heat of battle just 10 days after a 26-20 loss to the Melbourne Storm.

Despite riding a 17-game winning streak into the Grand Final, just five Panthers were selected for the 27-man squads between the Blues and Maroons with Cleary the only one of four selected for the Blues to make it onto the field.

Watch State of Origin I REPLAY on Kayo – available 30mins after full time with no ad-breaks during play and Fox League Commentary. New to Kayo? Get your 14-day free trial & start streaming instantly

News broke late on Wednesday afternoon that Kurt Capewell would make his debut in the Queensland team.

But the big question of the night is whether the demons of a recent Grand Final loss will overwhelm Cleary.

Still in the hurt of the loss, Cleary blamed himself for the loss, but admitted a cutout pass that he would “do it again” when asked about a pass intercepted by Suliasi Vunivalu for a long-range try.

Fresh after the game, Cleary said “I felt I let the boys down a fair bit”, admitting he blamed himself for the loss.

Nathan Cleary after the Grand Final loss on October 25.Source:Getty Images

But former Panthers general manager of football Phil Gould told his Six Tackles With Gus podcast earlier in the week that he had spoken to Cleary since the loss with Gould admitting it would be a feeling he never quite gets over.

“I had a conversation with Nathan Cleary just a couple of days after the grand final,” Gould said.

“Gave him time to breathe, I just rang just to see how he was going. He said, ‘It’s going through my head all the time’. I said, ’Don’t worry … I lost a grand final 40 years ago and it’s still going through my head’.

“‘You’re not going to forget. People say that you’ll forget, you won’t forget. You won’t ever forget it, so don’t think there’s going to be a day where you’ll forget it, you will remember it for the rest of your life; so get used to that and get over it and just go out and go again’.

“He said, ‘I’ll be ready. I’ll be fit and ready to go’. So physically he felt fine and just mentally had to pick himself up after the disappointment.

“There will be others there who are on a high, of course, because you‘ve got Melbourne Storm (who) won the game and they’ve got some players in this Origin as well.”

Phil Gould has shared some advice with Cleary.Source:Getty Images

The brutal element of the moment is that it’s just 10 days after the Grand Final loss that the Panthers half has to pick himself up from the canvas to go again.

Earlier in the week, Blues assistant coach and Panthers legend Greg Alexander labelled an suggestions that Cleary wouldn’t be up for the battle as “ridiculous”.

“Nathan didn‘t win the Dally M, but I thought Nathan was the player of the season and was in the top couple of players for Penrith just about in every game this year,” Alexander told 2GB’s Wide World of Sports Radio.

“If there is one young man that is mentally tough, it is Nathan Cleary. You can see that in the way he plays the game.

“While disappointed with the Grand Final loss, gee we‘ve jumped to conclusions about him being mentally scarred. Outrageous, I think.”

Alexander reiterated his comments on Fox League’s pre-game coverage of the first State of Origin match.

“It’s one of the most outrageous things I’ve ever heard,” he said.

“Do we say Luke Keary shouldn’t be in this game because he was quiet against the Canberra Raiders? I just thought that statement about Nathan Cleary, for a young player who has been absolutely brilliant this year, they have an off game and get beaten in the Grand Final and all of a sudden they shouldn’t be playing Origin. He’ll handle it well. We’ll see how he handles it over the next 80 minutes but I’m very confident he’ll play strong.”

And it could be something to get used to with the NRL admitting it hadn’t yet decided whether the end of season experiment would continue.

While the debate has been fierce, Origin great Chris Close has called for the game to stay at the end of the year.

“We need to consider what the fans want, and I think the fans, and the players, want a stand-alone State of Origin series,” Close told Wide World of Sports.

“We can‘t do that in the middle of the season, because of the disruption it would cause.

“This year has allowed us to experiment, because of the pandemic, and I like it.”

Source: Read Full Article