With friends like Aidan Guerra, recalled NSW playmaker Mitchell Pearce doesn’t need enemies.
Well, any more enemies.
Pearce has no shortage of haters judging by a “highlights” reel uploaded on YouTube of the much-maligned Blues half’s State of Origin gaffes to coincide with his Blues recall.
For the record, it goes for six, solid minutes.
Usually Guerra would come to the defence of his best mate at their NRL club Sydney Roosters.
But Guerra won’t be running out in the tri-colours at ANZ Stadium on Wednesday night.
In what looms as a classic “mate against mate” encounter, Guerra sounded like a man who would do his best to add to Pearce’s blooper reel in Origin I when he proudly dons Queensland’s maroon.
Asked how he felt about Pearce bouncing back from his 2014 exile and earning a NSW recall, Guerra said: “As a mate I’m pretty happy for him.
“But as a Queenslander I couldn’t really care less.
“He’s proven himself at club level, so they’ve given him another crack.
“It’s up to him now and it’s up to us to make it that little bit harder for him.
“He will be in different colours to what I am and it will be business as usual.”
Pearce has lost all five series he has contested for NSW and won just three of 12 matches.
He was overlooked in 2014 due to his involvement in a Sydney nightclub incident in the weeks leading up to last year’s series.
Now he’s back – albeit in the unfamiliar position of five-eighth.
When told of his mate’s Origin return Guerra seemed to do his best impersonation of a Blues coach at the end of a past series featuring Pearce – he kept the champagne on ice.
“He’s obviously one of my best mates,” Guerra said.
“He’s the captain of my NRL club.
“But that will be put behind me (on Wednesday night) – well, it already is.”
Pearce’s outstanding NRL form was enough to prise apart the Trent Hodkinson-Josh Reynolds Bulldogs halves pairing that steered NSW to their first Origin title in nine years.
But Guerra reckoned it remained to be seen if Pearce could finally transfer that form onto the Origin arena.
“I know at a personal level he’s really worked on himself and that’s come to the fore and you can really tell that about him – the way he carries himself,” Guerra said.
“But on the Origin field I don’t know too much of what might happen.
“It’s helped him at club level but it’s a different ball game (Origin).