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Pearce free to play for NSW despite ban

Mitchell Pearce Nakd

Sydney Roosters star Mitchell Pearce is available for State of Origin one selection, after the NRL integrity unit agreed missing a club match and copping a $20,000 fine was enough punishment for the NSW halfback's wild night out on the town.
Pearce free to play for NSW despite ban
by AAP

By Ben Horne

SYDNEY, May 13 AAP - Sydney Roosters star Mitchell Pearce is available for State of Origin one selection, after the NRL integrity unit agreed missing a club match and copping a $20,000 fine was enough punishment for the NSW halfback's wild night out on the town.

News that Pearce will be available to face Queensland at Suncorp Stadium on May 28 comes as a major relief to Blues coach Laurie Daley, who is still sweating on the result of a judiciary hearing on Wednesday night involving forward Greg Bird.

"Pearcey's the lynch pin," NSW back-rower Anthony Watmough said of the halfback's importance to the Blues' chances of breaking an eight-year Origin drought.

The Roosters announced late on Tuesday that Pearce will sit out Saturday night's clash with North Queensland in Townsville, pay a substantial fine to charity and undertake counselling after his shameful night out at the weekend.

Police concluded their investigation on Tuesday and determined no further action would be taken against Pearce.

The woman who made the complaint that led to Pearce's eviction from Beach Haus nightclub in Kings Cross notified authorities late on Monday night that she didn't wish to pursue the matter further.

Despite being cleared, Pearce's night still involved being kicked out of two nightspots, being arrested and getting served with an infringement notice by police for failing to leave a licensed premises in what was another bad look for the game.

The NRL has taken a hard line against alcohol matters in the past which have brought the game into disrepute.

Manly fullback Brett Stewart was suspended for four matches in 2009 for bringing the game into disrepute after a boozy night out, despite ultimately being acquitted of a sexual assault allegation.

Last year NSW prop James Tamou was suspended from an Origin match and fined $20,000 for being caught drink driving without a licence.

However, the NRL integrity unit was satisfied that the punishment handed down by the Roosters to Pearce fitted the crime.

Blues and Roosters teammate Boyd Cordner was given a $5000 fine ($2500 suspended) for being booted from the Clovelly Hotel along with Pearce.

"The club is most disappointed with the events of the weekend. The club and NRL have strong policies in place and there is a process that has had to run its course," said Sydney Roosters chief operating officer for football, Brian Canavan.

"Mitchell and Boyd have accepted the club sanctions and shown genuine remorse for the negative spotlight both have attracted to the Roosters and the game by breaching the club's and NRL's standards.

"Both are important contributors to our club, and the game, and we will continue to work closely with them to ensure their continued personal development off the field."

The NSW Rugby League was reluctant to comment, describing it as a Roosters matter.

Former Roosters player and now Manly utility Tom Symonds said playing for the Bondi club wasn't easy.

"There's a lot of spotlight and being in the city there's always cameras," he said.

Watmough was adamant deserved to wear the sky blue.

"If he's fit he should be there, yeah," he said.

Coach Daley has been a vocal supporter of Pearce since taking over, and if had been ruled out it would have posed a significant selection headache with no stand out candidate to take over the crucial No.7 jersey and oppose Queensland's Test-class halves.




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