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Jennings mentally ready for Origin bout

NSW centre Michael Jennings is desperate to repay Blues coach Ricky Stuart's leap of faith, but admits he still has work to do to repair his relationship with Penrith mentor Ivan Cleary.
Jennings mentally ready for Origin bout
by NRL

By Steve Jancetic

SYDNEY, May 15 AAP - NSW centre Michael Jennings is desperate to repay Blues coach Ricky Stuart's leap of faith, but admits he still has work to do to repair his relationship with Penrith mentor Ivan Cleary.

Dumped to park football last weekend, Jennings will make the dramatic jump to State of Origin next Wednesday night, Stuart taking the punt on an out-of-form player who has delivered in the past.

Jennings admits it's been a mental rollercoaster over the past week, but dismissed claims he had an attitude problem heading into Origin I.

"I know that I've got the right attitude," Jennings said on Tuesday.

"Mentally, I know I'm prepared - it has been a tough ride for me mentally and physically.

"I just have to come with the right attitude - obviously it hasn't been the right prep for me mentally.

"I just need to be strong."

Jennings admitted it was tough to be in the stands at CUA Stadium on Monday night, watching Penrith eke out a 13-12 golden-point win over St George Illawarra after he had turned out for Windsor Wolves in Auckland on Saturday.

Cleary was non-committal on Jennings' chances of getting back into the Panthers side on his return from Origin duties - the star centre admitting his club situation was far from resolved.

"It was tough but obviously that's what Ivan wanted me to do," Jennings said of turning out for the Wolves.

"If he thought that was what was best for the team, I'm all by it.

"I had to go do the job there and all I could do is go and do the job with a positive attitude."

Asked if he thought it had been a harsh punishment, Jennings said: "At the time, yeah, but I'll have to sit down with Ivan and go through it."

While those who have watched Jennings' inconsistent displays this year might suggest Stuart's selection was more blind faith than leap of faith, it was the centre's effort in last year's series-opener which made the coach an admirer.

He was arguably in worse club form heading into that game, having failed to cross the stripe in his first nine games for the Panthers last year compared to six from eight games in 2012.

Stuart is desperate to fight fire with fire with the Maroons - Jennings' attacking skills when he stood up the Queensland outside backs to score at Suncorp Stadium leaving a lasting impression on the coach, and Jennings.

"I can take that confidence from last year," Jennings said.

"I'm grateful he gave me this opportunity again and grateful he stuck by me.

"All I can do now is my job. He's got faith in me and believes in my ability."

Jennings joined the majority of the Blues squad in their first training run of the camp at CUA Stadium on Tuesday afternoon - with just skipper Paul Gallen and the three players from Monday night's Panthers-Dragons clash sitting out the session.

Gallen has been hampered by a knee problem but, in a massive boost for NSW fans, he ran strongly in a series of drills with Blues conditioning staff.




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