World Cup

Cleary: ‘It still feels a bit surreal that I played for Australia’

22 Oct 22, 6:56PM 0 Comments

Written by John Davidson

Photo by Getty Images

Nathan Cleary says playing for his country is the greatest honour you can have after making his debut for Australia at the World Cup.

Cleary starred as the Kangaroos thrashed Scotland 84-0 in Coventry.

The Penrith halfback finished with 28 points, a try and 12 goals, in an impressive debut.

“It still feels a bit surreal that I played for Australia,” he said after the game.

“It was an emotional morning when I got my jersey. It was a crazy feeling to actually get out there. It was good fun and I’m very grateful.

“There was a little bit [of tears]. Mum and Dad were there so it was a bit emotional. It was a cool experience and I’m so glad that Mum and Dad could get over here for my debut.”

Cleary did not play in Australia’s World Cup opener against Italy, but helped his country flog the Bravehearts in the west Midlands.

The 24-year-old, who was won NRL grand finals and played in State of Origin, admitted to nerves before his maiden international performance.

“I woke up and had this butterfly feeling,” he said.

“I didn’t think I was going to be nervous but I woke up and had it. Once you get out there you’re playing off instinct and the players you’re playing alongside me, they’re great players so they make me look better.

“It’s right up there, playing for the green and gold is the greatest honour you can have. It still feels a bit surreal that I’ve actually done it.

“There’s great history and pride in the jersey and to be able to pull it on and have a win like that it’s very special.”

Cleary partnered with Cameron Munster in the halves, and enjoyed the experience.

“It was awesome,” he said.

“He’s a great player, I’ve come up against him in some big games and we’ve had some battles over time but to team up and play with him, I want to do it again.”

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