If you told Luke Keary 12 months ago his NSW Origin debut may end up being at halfback, he would have thought you were from Mars.
Keary has won two NRL titles at five-eighth and honed his craft in the No. 6 jersey since bursting onto the scene at South Sydney in 2013. He admits that just one year ago, the thought of playing halfback at the Roosters made him shudder.
But with Cooper Cronk sidelined by a hamstring complaint, Keary has been thrust into the role by coach Trent Robinson.
He has thrived. Five try assists in two wins for the Tri-colours later, Keary is starting to feel at home as the Chooks' chief playmaker.
"Ive never enjoyed playing seven. I think I am starting – Im a bit older now – so I think Im starting to understand a bit more about the role," Keary said. "I do enjoy playing six, I enjoy the freedom and being able to pick my moments.
"But its 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."
The help Keary referenced has largely come from Cronk's brilliant football brain.
He is the ultimate game manager, a skill Keary has not put a great deal of work into as a freestyle type five-eighth.
"As a seven, 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," Keary said. "How the game is feeling, flowing, how we are feeling and how theyre feeling. Ive learnt a lot about rugby league, to be honest, and how football actually works."
Keary's performances in Cronk's absence have caught the eye of NSW coach Brad Fittler.
The halves pair which led Fittler's NSW side to a dominant series win last year – Nathan Cleary and James Maloney – haven't set the world alight behind a struggling Penrith pack and that has opened the door for Keary, as either a No. 6 or No. 7.
"The thing Luke Keary does is he can play both positions," Fittler Read More – Source