The battlers and backrowers leaving Origin halfback Nathan Cleary in their wake

Backrowers, battlers and NSW Cup players are all leaving Nathan Cleary in their wake stats-wise as pressure continues to mount on the Blues halfback.

Lachlan Lewis can’t crack a start with the Canterbury Bulldogs, who sit dead last.

And still, the young No. 6 has more NRL try assists than Nathan Cleary.

But guess what?

So does Cronulla rookie Kyle Flanagan, and in only half the games.

Same deal Ash Taylor, the Gold Coast halfback whose form has been so disastrous in 2019, he’s now disappeared on indefinite leave.

In fact, only days out from NSW naming its side for Origin II, The Daily Telegraph can reveal Cleary has orchestrated only four tries for Penrith this year — a figure which puts him equal 36th among all NRL players.

And for perspective, know that Melbourne bopper Kenny Bromwich has set up as many four pointers down south.

Same deal Ryan Papenhuyzen, who plays off the Storm bench.

While as for young Manly five-eighth Cade Cust … well, he’s reached the Cleary total in just four NRL appearances.

Cleary has been in underwhelming form of late.

Even among starting halfbacks, Cleary sits 15th for try assists.

Behind a host of names including injured Roosters No. 6 Luke Keary, who has substituted for Cooper Cronk just three times this year — and still orchestrated five tries.

Worse, the Fox Sports Lab reveals that while Cleary now boasts four Origin appearances for NSW, he is yet to strike a major blow offensively. 

After 360 minutes in the Blues No. 7, the 21-year-old has no tries, no try assists, no linebreaks and no linebreak assists.

Worryingly, his only real attacking stats of note are a forced drop out and one secondary linebreak assist — which effectively means he threw a nice ball to the fella who orchestrated a third person breaking the Queensland defence.

And still, the Panthers young gun remains favoured to retain his place for Origin II.

Will Pearce get one more chance.

Apart from having defended solidly in his brief Blues career, Cleary is also benefiting from having one of rugby league’s most loyal men, Brad Fittler, as coach.

Indeed, when Freddy first named the Next Big Thing for his NSW debut last year, he vowed to show him a faith that has been lacking in previous campaigns.

And for proof, ask Jarrod Mullen.

Or Terry Campese.

Still, the job of a halfback is to orchestrate points.

Yet on that score, Cleary currently sits equal with a player like Cust, who has spent much of this year in NSW Cup.

And behind young Bulldogs playmaker Lewis, who after making plenty of headlines early on in the year, has since been dropped back to reserves by coach Dean Pay.

Can Cleary hang on?

Which is why a push is now underway to have Newcastle’s Mitchell Pearce return to the Origin arena.

On that same list of try assists for starting halfbacks, Pearce sits second on 14 — three behind the Parramatta Eels Mitchell Moses.

And among all NRL players, he is fourth.

Again, with Moses first ahead of South Sydney No. 9 Damien Cook (16) and North Queensland playmaker Michael Morgan (15).

Over the past six games alone for Newcastle, in which the Knights have gone undefeated, Pearce has scored five tries and orchestrated 10 more. He has also forced eight drop outs as part of a solid short kicking game.

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