Joey, Gus call for NSW heads to roll

 

NSW legend Andrew Johns has sensationally called for Blues coach Brad Fittler to dump Luke Keary following NSW's stunning defeat in the State of Origin series opener.

Johns led the outcry from Blues legends with Phil Gould and Paul Gallen also calling for changes in the post-match wash-up.

The Blues were sensationally beaten in the biggest upset since Paul Vautin's 1995 Maroons side swept the Blues 3-0.

It's why the post-mortem has been so savage from the Blues' alumni.

While Johns' call for Keary's head was the most dramatic statement after the game, there are also major fears from Blues greats about the selections of Clint Gutherson and Jack Wighton out of position in the centres.

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The Blues could be looking at sweeping changes for Game 2 in Sydney on Wednesday, November 11, with Cameron Murray suffering a serious hamstring injury and captain Boyd Cordner also copping another head knock.

Storm fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen is also a very real option to come onto the bench.

That's exactly what Johns wants to happen as he called for Keary to lose his No. 6 jumper to Cody Walker in a move that would allow Papenhuyzen to make his debut from the bench.

Gould was scathing of both Keary and Cleary as neither playmaker found a way to steady the ship or create an attacking spark in the second half.

But it is Keary who should pay the price, according to Johns.

NSW's Luke Keary may pay the price for the Game 1 defeat.
NSW's Luke Keary may pay the price for the Game 1 defeat.

"I think that he (Walker) comes in for Luke Keary," Johns told Channel Nine.

"After what I saw tonight over the last 15 minutes, 20 minutes, Cody Walker has to start.

"I think he has to come on at five-eighth. He provides a lot of creativity.

"When Cody came on the field, he likes to play. Likes to get his hands on the ball, and he likes to create.

"I thought there were times in that second half, obviously the Blues were on the back foot, but there were times they had quick play-the-balls and the halves didn't stand up and play.

"At this standard, you only get a couple of opportunities a half. I thought they got bogged down, played too negative.

"But once Cody came on, (NSW) looked dangerous. And that's where Queensland looked vulnerable."

Johns also said Keary appeared to be a weak link in the Blues' defensive line.

"Luke, defensively tonight, looked a little bit vulnerable on that side of the field," Johns said.

"They have had a long year the Roosters, they have been up for a long time. What I saw tonight in the last 15 to 20 minutes I think that Cody Walker has to start."

Despite calling for changes, Johns also cautioned against major changes to the Blues side for Game 2 because of the quick turnaround.

"Whether they have enough time to change a half combination (is the question)," he said. "They have to play next week in a must-win game. I don't expect much changes but there will be forced changes."

A dejected NSW's Nathan Cleary is under the pump.
A dejected NSW's Nathan Cleary is under the pump.

Johns and Gallen also both went public with their concern about Wighton and Gutherson in the centres after Kurt Capewell and Dane Gagai on multiple occasions ran straight through them - twice leading to tries.

"I don't think that Wighton gets involved enough in the centres and I don't think that Gutherson is comfortable where he is. Brad will look at it," Johns said.

Gallen said there would be "serious conversations" inside the Blues camp about picking the two players out of position.

Meanwhile, Panthers star Cleary will also be under the pump as a result of the dominant performances from Cameron Munster and Daly Cherry-Evans after the Maroons halfback was named man of the match.

"These Blues halves have got to get themselves into the game," Gould said in the second half.

"They are playing no football at the moment.

"The halves have to come to the fore and start to move this ball around. The two halves aren't getting together and playing the attacking game they would like. They have to find a way to impose their will on the contest. They are not getting it their own way."

The Blues have just seven days to find the right answers before the series goes on the line in Sydney.

 

Originally published as Joey, Gus call for NSW heads to roll


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