AAP Rugby

I need to dominate end-game more: Cleary

By AAP Newswire

He may have helped deliver the shield back to NSW but Nathan Cleary admits he failed to take charge towards the end of their State of Origin III defeat.

Cleary cemented his status as the state's halfback of the future when he became just the eighth No.7 to lead the Blues to a series win this year.

And it initially appeared the 20-year-old had stamped his authority at Origin level when he steered the Blues to a halftime lead on Wednesday night.

It came despite having just 30 per cent possession, as well as halves partner James Maloney in the sin bin for the final 10 minutes for a professional foul.

"We were defending at the time so I just had to take it set by set and finish our sets where we wanted to in the corner," Cleary said.

"And then as soon as we got the ball, we just had to complete our sets. We didn't want to drop the ball or give any penalties away.

"We just had to take that all in and then we were lucky enough to score two tries."

But the Penrith star was critical of his inability to take control of the match when it was there for the taking late in the match.

The Blues had a number of opportunities in attack, but couldn't convert them into points.

"There was definitely improvement in parts for me. But as a whole, there's plenty to learn and improvement still," Cleary told AAP.

"Playing up here was a great learning curve for me, especially that end part of the game. I probably need to dominate that a bit more and really take control of that.

"But I'll take a lot out of this and this whole series. I'm looking forward to hopefully making the team next year and then improving."

While he is likely to be rested for Friday's NRL clash against Cronulla, Cleary intends to prove his big-game ability in Penrith's run to the finals.

The Panthers are currently in fourth spot and primed for a shot at the premiership.

"I'm really stoked that I got these three games under my belt," Cleary said.

"Us Penrith boys are in a really good position to make a run for the finals. I think this Origin experience is invaluable for that, especially with me and (James Maloney) in the halves.

"I'll learn a lot out of this and hopefully take that back to club footy and make a real good run into the finals."