Joey tips agonising NSW call on Keary

League Immortal Andrew Johns says there's no room for Luke Keary in the New South Wales side for next week's State of Origin opener against Queensland.

The Blues open their Origin defence against the Maroons in Adelaide next Wednesday, with the identity of Nathan Cleary's halves partner one of the few positions yet to be sorted.

Johns has chosen to overlook Keary, instead plumping for Cody Walker in the number six jumper, the Souths five-eighth who made his Origin debut in 2019.

To find out Joey's 17-man NSW side, watch the video above.

Keary had been the favourite for much of the season to don the Blues' five-eighth jumper for the first time, but according to Johns the final stages of the premiership saw Walker edge ahead.

"I think Cody at five-eighth, I just thought late in the year Luke Keary's form dipped a little bit," Johns told Wide World of Sports' The Blueprint.

"The worrying thing for me was the try that (Joe) Tapine scored against the Roosters in that semi-final (for Canberra), where he (Keary) missed him a couple of times.

"Cody's form, the last six weeks of the premiership, I compared it to Jarryd Hayne in 2009."

Johns also pointed out that Walker, as a left-foot kicker, offers an important counter-point to Cleary.

"His (Walker's) form was incredible, he's played one (Origin) game last year, I think he deserves his spot," Johns added.

"Without getting too technical, Nathan is a right foot kicker, he was targeted in the grand final because he was the only kicker.

"Cody gives you that left-foot option on the left side."

Blues coach Brad Fittler has previously said he expects all three of Cleary, Walker and Keary to feature in the series at some point, given the compressed nature of the games, with the three-match series being played in consecutive weeks.

Andrew Johns says Cody Walker should play five-eighth for NSW ahead of Luke Keary.

Walker's Origin debut in 2019 was one to forget. He was hooked by Fittler in the opening game, a Queensland victory at Suncorp Stadium, and then dropped for the remainder of the series, which saw the Blues come from 1-0 down to hoist the shield for the second consecutive year.

Johns said the only other spot that's up for debate is in the front row, where he expects the Parramatta pairing of Junior Paulo and Reagan Campbell-Gillard to start.

"Junior Paulo is a really good ball player, he can offload the ball, which is really important in big games, and I think Reagan Campbell-Gillard, his footwork, he gets over the advantage line," Johns explained.

"Origin this year is going to be so fast, with the six-to-go, this is the first time we've played Origin with the six-to-go rule, and Reagan Campbell-Gillard complements Junior Paulo, because he's quick, he works hard, he gets over the ground well and they know each other's games."

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