Coach Laurie Daley considered recalling Mitchell Pearce to the NSW side for State of Origin III but opted not to because he didn’t want to expose the Sydney Roosters’ star to being the Blues’ fall guy once again.
Halfback Adam Reynolds pulled out of the NSW side for game three on Wednesday due to a shoulder injury. Matt Moylan has been recalled to the Blues side, with the Penrith captain to battle it out with Jack Bird to play alongside James Maloney in the Blues halves.
Pearce has often borne the brunt of criticism following a Blues series loss and that was again the case last year as NSW failed to defend the Origin shield.
“We considered a couple of guys but Mitch has only had that one game back and it has been a stop-start year for him so I thought it was better to leave him alone, let him concentrate on his club and finish his year off strongly,” Daley said.
“We did consider him but I don’t want to put too much pressure on Mitch. He has been the fall guy for a number of years and I don’t want to put him in that situation again, given it is a limited preparation. That is just me. I want to protect people.”
Due to his suspension for his Australia Day antics Pearce had little chance to put forward a case for Origin representation this year and Reynolds made his interstate debut in game one and followed that up in game two.
Pearce suffered a calf injury three games after returning from suspension and has only played four in total this season.
However with South Sydney star Reynolds sidelined as he continues to battle with the shoulder injury he suffered in game two, Pearce was an option for Daley.
Daley spoke to Pearce earlier this year but didn’t consult him ahead of game three.
“I haven’t spoken to Mitch but he is a guy who at his best is a tremendous player,” Daley said.
“But with a limited preparation I didn’t want to put too much pressure on him.”