Cronk: The quality that has Keary ready for Origin
COOPER Cronk says Sydney Roosters halves partner Luke Keary clearly has what it takes to play State of Origin.
Plying his trade alongside arguably the best No.7 in the game, Keary has the opportunity to seriously enhance his Blues chances this year, especially with young gun Nathan Cleary ruled out for 10 weeks.
NSW coach Brad Fittler confirmed on Sunday he won't be tempted to blood Cleary in just over two months if he hasn't first returned though the NRL for Penrith.
Instead, he wants to pick halves in winning form, a requirement Keary is likely to meet given the Roosters' roster and his budding combination with Cronk.
And Cronk, who played 22 Origins for Queensland before his representative retirement last year, believes Keary has the right mindset for the representative arena.
"You need a good temperament to handle the occasion and he's definitely got a good head on his shoulders," Cronk said.
"Me answering this question in round three with eight weeks to go before Origin is only going to add pressure to the kid but he's definitely got the skill set that could definitely represent NSW one day."
Cleary's knee injury reduces the Blues' likely halves race to four men battling for two spots.
James Maloney and Mitchell Pearce are the incumbents while Keary and Parramatta's Mitchell Moses are the only other serious contenders.
But with Cronk by his side, Keary's game only looks like going from strength to strength.
The pair combined directly for three tries against Newcastle on Sunday night, while Keary finished the night with a try and four tackle busts in the 38-8 win.
All this in just their second game together after a pre-season largely lost to Keary's broken jaw.
"We'll try and fast-track (the combination) as quick as we can but I think we're in a decent position," Cronk said.
"If you only want to do what it takes on the training field, it might take 20 weeks.
"If you want to put in the extra half-hour session after session to know that when I step off my right and I hold the ball in this hand Keary knows what I'm going to do (it will be quicker). We've been doing that."
Meanwhile Keary himself, who once pledged his allegiances to Queensland before being told he was only NSW eligible, isn't willing to get into Origin discussions yet.
"To be able to go into that arena you need to play a few seasons of consistent footy," the 26-year-old said.