Mitchell Pearce should get ready for Origin recall

Pearce is that good he can transform the Roosters' season. Photo: Getty

Pearce is that good he can transform the Roosters' season. Photo: Getty

When the Sydney Roosters run out to take on the Newcastle Knights at Allianz Stadium on Saturday night, Mitchell Pearce effectively closes the door on the toughest three months of his career.

The premiership-winning halfback has served the eight-match ban slapped on him – along with a whopping fine of $125,000, of which $50,000 was suspended – by the NRL after an infamous video depicting a drunken Pearce on Australia Day surfaced.

But while most pundits are cautiously advising the 27-year-old to conquer his demons and get his life back on track first and foremost, Pearce may still be required to play the saviour role for New South Wales on rugby league’s biggest stage in a month’s time.

Rugby League’s ‘Hall of Shame’ gets newest entrant
This NRL rule is ruining the game and must go
The horrific abuse suffered by female sports reporters
Rafael Nadal’s suggestion that could change sport

Blues Origin coach Laurie Daley’s halves options are shockingly thin, with form, injury or inexperience stymieing a modest list of candidates.

Pearce has three NRL matches – and potentially a hit-out for City Origin next week – to show Daley, who has not shut the door on the playmaker despite his indiscretion, that he is worthy of retention.

He will have learnt his lesson from what was unquestionably a lamentable incident, but one where he was also the victim of opportunists looking to profit from his high profile.

Pearce makes a tearful apology after returning from rehab. Photo: Getty

Pearce makes a tearful apology after returning from rehab. Photo: Getty

The acerbic, overblown reaction condemning Pearce in the aftermath is sure to serve as motivation as he takes his tentative first steps back into the NRL limelight.

NSW and Canterbury legend Steve Mortimer backed Pearce to return from the controversy a better person and player.

“I have great respect for Mitchell Pearce,” Mortimer told The New Daily ahead of Pearce’s comeback match.

“I know he stuffed up – and I think he was hoodwinked this time – but I’m sure that he’s getting to an age where he’s more mature, and therefore behaving better.

“Personally, I hope he’s learnt from his mistakes, and that he can be a mentor in the years to come for other players.”

Pearce will also feel that he owes the Roosters – the struggling three-time minor premiers’ 1-7 start would have been torture for their sidelined linchpin.

Mortimer, who captained the Blues to their maiden series win in 1985 with Pearce’s father, Balmain great Wayne, as his deputy, believes Mitchell can rescue the Roosters’ spiralling campaign.

“Mitch is a good footballer – he will (turn the Roosters around),” he added.

“And I’m glad to see young Jackson Hastings still in the team, because he’s got a little bit of flair and brilliance. I think he and Mitchell can be a very good combination.”

If Pearce can flip his club’s fortunes, it might just create an opening for him to do the same for his state.

Pearce is that good he can transform the Roosters' season. Photo: Getty

Pearce is that good he can transform the Roosters’ season. Photo: Getty

For his part, Mortimer believes there are players better suited to driving the Blues’ Origin charge this year, rubber-stamping Canberra duo Blake Austin and Aidan Sezer as his preferred halves pairing.

But the fact a respected judge like Mortimer deems Austin and Sezer the best NSW has available – neither has played in a NRL finals match and both have been hampered by injury in 2016 – suggests a proven match-winner like Pearce is still in with a red-hot chance.

Pairing the veteran of 203 first-grade games and 15 Origins with one of the exciting Raiders, or a fellow big-match player like former Roosters team-mate James Maloney, shapes as Daley’s best option.

Pearce has shouldered more than his share of the blame for the Blues’ Origin failings since his representative debut in 2008. ‘

But nothing the Maroons can throw at him in the Suncorp Stadium cauldron can compare to the wringer he has been put through in recent months.

We’re destined to see a revitalised and fiercely determined Pearce lauded as one of the stars of the second half of 2016.

Rugby league has a cruel habit of making pariahs of its fallen superstars.

But the game loves nothing more than a redemption story – and Mitchell Pearce has the opportunity to pen one of the great tales of sporting salvation.

Stay informed, daily
A FREE subscription to The New Daily arrives every morning and evening.
The New Daily is a trusted source of national news and information and is provided free for all Australians. Read our editorial charter.
Copyright © 2024 The New Daily.
All rights reserved.