Pearce rates Roosters No.1 Mitchell

Sydney Roosters star Mitchell Pearce expects rookie fullback Latrell Mitchell to have a big finish to the NRL season after the youngster was cleared of a serious knee injury.

Mitchell failed to finish last Thursday’s loss to Canterbury after aggravating a knee problem, but Pearce said the 18-year-old pulled up well over the weekend and is expected to play against Parramatta on Friday.

“He should be okay. He’s been training well and after that try, hopefully we can see a bit more of that until the end of the year,” Pearce said at a children’s clinic on Monday.

The Roosters halfback paid tribute to Mitchell for stepping up admirably in the footsteps of the club’s past two fullback stars in Anthony Minichiello and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck this season.

Mitchell has appeared in all 15 of the Roosters’ games so far this year, scoring nine tries.

“Obviously it’s a massive effort, what he’s done,” Pearce said.

“Everyone’s comparing him to Greg Inglis. But to play at 18 and fullback after coming (after) Anthony Minichiello and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck – two guys that really owned that position while they were here – he came in with a lot of pressure.

“Greg Inglis and these guys came in at wing. That’s nothing against them, they’re some of the game’s greats. But it’s been a massive effort for Mitchell and he’s really motivated to finish the season well.”

With the Roosters’ finals ambitions all but over, Pearce said the focus has turned on how the club will return to being a premiership force.

Pearce gave the club a big tick for its recent recruitment of South Sydney playmaker Luke Keary for the 2017-18 seasons, and urged Jackson Hastings to work hard to maintain a spot in the 17.

“I think (Keary’s) going to be really good for the club. I really like watching him play and I really respect him as a player so I think he’s going to be really good for the club,” Pearce said.

“Obviously they’ve signed him to be in the halves … Jackson’s young, he’s got it all ahead of him. I’m sure it’ll all work out if he works hard.”

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