It's no secret Nathan Cleary is not playing well in a team that is struggling. I reckon he'd be the first to admit that. But he would still be my NSW Blues halfback for this year's Origin series.
The debate over who will get the nod in the halves has dominated Origin talk. Everyone has an opinion. A lot of names have been tossed up. The form of Souths halves Adam Reynolds and Cody Walker is strong and one or both of them would probably do a great job for the Blues.
But like I said, I believe they have to keep Cleary and it's purely because I don't think it would be fair to burn him now after he played in a winning side last season.
They picked him last season and in doing so, made a pretty clear statement that he was the future of the Blues. And while it may have been his more experienced halves partner Jimmy Maloney pulling most of the strings during the Blues' series win, Cleary still played a part and will be better for the experience.
It could be the making of him as well. He'll get away from club footy and be around players who are confident in a new, fresh environment which might be just what he needs to rediscover his best form.
So on that premise alone, how do they dump him now? If I'm picking the side, I'd have Cleary and Luke Keary in the halves. Keary deserves his shot off the back of current form and what he did for the Roosters last season, including his starring role in their grand final win where he proved he could run the show and dominate in a big game. Whether Brad Fittler goes that way or comes up with another combination remains to be seen.
If I'm picking the side, I'd have Cleary and Luke Keary in the halves.
The fact I haven't been in the conversation at all doesn't bother me. I'm really happy with my recent club form but I recognise I've probably had my time and not being in the equation allows me to direct all my concentration and energy into the Knights. That's where my focus is.
The Origin period is still going to be a testing time for our club though. Barring injury, I believe Klem [David Klemmer] and Kalyn [Ponga] are certainties and Jesse Ramien only needs a couple of good performances over the next few weeks to also find himself right in the frame for the vacant NSW centre spot. When you are a big bloke like Klem who will no doubt pour his heart and soul into his job up front for the Blues, it's a tough ask to then back-up with the same sort of energy and vigour for your club. It will be just as big a test for Kalyn as well because his soul Origin experience to date is his cameo off the bench for the Maroons in game two last season.
Their workloads over the period are something we are going to have to manage but I'm really confident we have the depth to handle whatever is thrown our way.
As for the series itself, there was a distinct change in Origin last year with a number of Maroons immortals moving on and Queensland having to deal with the loss of the game management and experience that Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Johnathan Thurston provided.
This year, there will be no Billy Slater or Greg Inglis so the changing of the guard will be complete and while Queensland will still come up with a great side, you'd like to think the Blues will now have the chance to potentially build a bit of a dynasty of their own.
READ MORE: Newcastle Knights
But first things first, we've got the Dragons to worry about on Sunday in Mudgee, the start of a challenging little period for us that all the boys are really looking forward to. We've got the chance to go five and five and it's a big game for us to test our resolve and the confidence we have been building off the back of some much better performances over the past three weeks.
I'm told the club's overall record against the Dragons is poor but we have already shown with wins over Cronulla in round one and the Warriors in Auckland that the past doesn't mean much if we turn up for each other and have a real dig.