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Pearce eyeing ultimate NRL resurrection

Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson has hailed the character set to transform halfback Mitchell Pearce state scapegoat to NRL premiership hero.
Pearce eyeing ultimate NRL resurrection
by AAP

By Steve Jancetic

SYDNEY, Oct 3 AAP - Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson has hailed the character set to transform halfback Mitchell Pearce state scapegoat to NRL premiership hero.

While much of the talk at Thursday's grand final lunch - the last face-to-face meeting of the two sides before Sunday's grand final - focused on the availability of players from both sides, the praise for Pearce stood out.

Robinson admitted some surprise at his playmaker's ability to re-focus and sustain the challenge at club level after the State of Origin series.

Pearce lost his fifth series with NSW and before the decider admitted he was on his last chance at Origin level - with many calling for South Sydney ace Adam Reynolds to be finally given his chance.

But from the disaster Pearce has responded with the best form of his career.

"As soon as that game three finished, Pearcy hadn't changed in our eyes, we were proud of the way that he dealt with things," Robinson said.

"It shows great character - different people go in different directions after series losses like that.

"Pearcy decided really quickly - we felt like we needed to support him - but Pearcy came in the next day and he was ready to go.

"Sometimes you feel like that's a bit of a high, that's a rebound effect and that's going to drop.

"That hasn't dropped off.

"The guy thought about it, dealt with it, copped a lot of criticism and then decided to get on the front foot and play footy.

"That shows great character."

While happy to cop the praise, Pearce wasn't thrilled the subject of his dismal Origin performance had been raised again.

"I'm sort of getting sick of people talking about it to be honest, I don't think it deserves (the attention)," Pearce said.

"... players are getting over losses all the time.

"I was obviously disappointed for about a week, I think the whole (NSW) squad was that lost that game.

"Ever since then, it's easy to come back into a good side, I feel like I've been playing well as the whole team had at the Roosters all year.

"We've got a good thing going on here."

And that includes a defence that has been amongst the best the game has ever seen - their shut-out of six teams an NRL record.

One of those shutouts was against the Sea Eagles in the qualifying final, but Robinson conceded the same effort may not be enough.

"We've definitely got to defend well again, we've got arguably the best backline in the competition (to go up against)," Robinson said.

"We'll know our job there and how to defend it.

"We've done it but we're going to have to go to another level on Sunday to defend it and then we're going to have to play some attack on the back of it."

For the Sea Eagles - who haven't scored a point in the first half of any of the three games the two sides have played this year - it's the ultimate test.

"You can't change too much this time of year," Manly coach Geoff Toovey said.

"You just have to do what you do better.

"We need to find that extra bit of pace or extra bit of strength to stop them from scoring or alternatively get across the line."




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