AAP Rugby

I just had to make Origin tackle: Cleary

By AAP Newswire

It's being hailed as his very own Scott Sattler moment.

But NSW halfback Nathan Cleary says he was just lucky to bundle flying Queensland winger Valentine Holmes into touch at a critical junction in their State of Origin series-clinching win.

The Blues were leading by four late in game two when Holmes seemingly found himself in the clear at ANZ Stadium, only for Cleary to produce his try-saving cover tackle.

"I saw him go over and I was just in the right place in the right time. I knew he was going to take me on down the sideline. I just had to make it," Cleary said.

"He was very fast but I knew I just had to go in hard and hope for the best."

It was another Penrith star in Sattler who etched his name into NRL grand final folklore with his desperate tackle on Sydney Roosters winger Todd Byrne in the 2003 decider.

Cleary was just six at the time but is well versed in the Panthers' history-making moment.

"You see it all the time. It's the greatest moment out there, but I don't think it was much like that. I didn't have to run that far. It's just lucky it came off," Cleary said.

The flashpoint also comes four years after a 16-year-old Cleary sat in the Blatchys Blues section of the crowd in NSW' only other series win in the past 13 years.

He thought running out four years later to help the Blues re-capture the shield was a pipe dream.

"For it to come true at 20 years of age, I'm absolutely blessed and so lucky to be out here playing with these boys. I'm lost for words," he said.

Like they did in his Origin debut in Melbourne, both Nathan and dad Ivan verged on tears sharing the victory together in the sheds after the match.

"We were getting a bit teary ... (he's) a bit of a softie, that bloke. It's such a special moment. It's absolutely priceless. He didn't say too much, he just hugged me," Nathan said.

The victory also seemingly ends the halfback curse for the Blues, with Cleary the state's 10th halfback since the beginning of the Queensland's dynasty in 2006.

Cleary said he was hoping he wasn't going to be just another name on the lengthy list.

"It's the biggest belief, that we could get the series win," he said.

"I felt so much pressure (with) the whole weight of NSW on your shoulders. They've been through some hard times so hopefully we can turn the tide now."