NSW State of Origin players Mitchell Pearce (left) Andrew Fifita relax in camp ahead of next Wednesday's series opener.
NSW State of Origin players Mitchell Pearce (left) Andrew Fifita relax in camp ahead of next Wednesday's series opener. PAUL MILLER

Pearce grateful to be back in Blue

MITCHELL Pearce has been handed the NSW game plan, and comes armed with a red, white and blueprint to end the Maroons dominance.

Returning to the sky blue No.7 jumper for the first time since 2013, Pearce will call the shots in each training and video session coach Laurie Daley puts his side through during the next week.

In recent years he's refined his game at the feet of Roosters halves coach and rugby league Immortal Andrew Johns.

Along the way Alan Bell, the same halfback whisperer Johns credits with his rise to rugby league immortality, has taken more than a passing interest in the Blues' most maligned man.

Now Pearce is 28, set to join Johns as his state's most capped halfback, in charge, and planning an offensive assault grounded in the power game that took the Roosters to premiership glory.

"When I got the call off Loz yesterday he was pretty positive about playing to my strengths and playing to my style at the Roosters," Pearce said on Tuesday.

"That's the style I'm comfortable with. I'm looking forward to implementing that.

 

It's my job to take responsibility of the side. It's my job to run the attack.

 

"I run my side at the Roosters and call most of the shots there.

"As a rep team we're obviously playing with a different group of players (but) we've got to hit the ground running.

"Queensland are all on the same page and have been on the same page for a long time. I'm looking forward to getting everyone on our page when we start training."

When Pearce takes to the training paddock in Kingscliff, alongside him will be great mate and 2013 title winning halves partner James Maloney.

Tricolours skipper Boyd Cordner will lead NSW out a week later at Suncorp Stadium, driving a pack "who can play a flat and fast, powerful style", and putting a bit of Bondi into the Blues for Pearce.

Most telling though is the inclusion of rookie rake Nathan Peats over veteran Robbie Farah.

Peats and Chooks No.9 Nathan Friend sat in the same class on dummy-half service - direct and unencumbered with their halfback well and truly behind the wheel.

Farah attended a different school, by no means inferior, just different, where his skips around the ruck can expose a marker but also cut down his first receiver's space and time.

 

NSW State of Origin halfback Mitchell Pearce in action for the Roosters.
NSW State of Origin halfback Mitchell Pearce in action for the Roosters. DAN HIMBRECHTS

He and Pearce have never truly gelled at the highest level, to the point where one Origin camp featured a training power struggle between the pair.

With another Origin loss, much less a series defeat, potentially ending his interstate career, Pearce won't be drawn on Farah's influence in the past.

But Daley has now dubbed Pearce master of both his, and the Blues' destiny. A role the Roosters linchpin is relishing.

"I think there's been a lot of different reasons why at times I haven't played to my potential," Pearce said.

"I haven't played great in different situations, other games I've played well. There's been a lot of different situations (as to) why the team hasn't played great over the years.

"But this series, to give ourselves our best chance, I think playing to my strengths and our halves strength is going to give ourselves every chance to attack as well as we can.

"It's my job to take responsibility of the side. Peatsy, everyone knows the style he plays.

"He plays tough and gives good service out of dummy half. I don't think he'll be coming up with anything magical in a week, he'll play that style.

"It's a style I'm comfortable with and should give us every chance to play good footy against Queensland."

News Corp Australia


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