Cleary has no regrets about Origin rest

Penrith's Ivan Cleary (r) says he has no regrets resting his Origin stars, including son Nathan (l).
Penrith's Ivan Cleary (r) says he has no regrets resting his Origin stars, including son Nathan (l).

Penrith coach Ivan Cleary has no regrets about resting his State of Origin stars last week, saying their exclusion has made them hungrier to return on Friday night.

Two straight losses with a depleted side have stunted Penrith's extraordinary 12-game winning streak and given up top spot on the NRL ladder to Melbourne.

However, the return of Nathan Cleary, Isaah Yeo, Brian To'o, Kurt Capewell and Jarome Luai to the side to face Sydney Roosters is set to right the record.

Coach Cleary said resting all of his Origin stars except Liam Martin just 48 hours after the series opener against Cronulla last week has them itching to get back out on the field.

"That was one of the reasons we didn't play them this week," he said.

"Throughout this period where they're going to play some huge games, we want them feeling like that every week and the way the turnaround came, we decided that would be a good thing.

"They look really good this week."

Blues halfback Cleary was bloodied with a cut face after the 50-6 victory over Queensland in Townsville last Wednesday night but has returned to the team mentally fresh.

"I know he feels pretty good," his father said.

"I think it was probably the best or certainly would be the best that he went into an Origin series ... Nothing like a big victory too to make everyone happy.

"I was very proud of him.

"I think he's shown for a number of years now that he's an Origin player in terms of the intensity that he brings. It's fun to watch."

Without their Origin stars the Panthers dropped games to Wests Tigers and the Sharks, which Cleary says gave the young side a valuable lesson.

He was particularly disappointed with the 19-18 loss to the Sharks last week.

"We probably learned from last week just that we need to stick to the template we feel works.

"We went away from that a little bit last week, certainly in the first half.

"That's a good lesson to show regardless who's here and who's not, there's some things you need to bring each week to win the game."

Australian Associated Press