The message from NSW skipper Robbie Farah to all the Mitchell Pearce haters was simple on Tuesday: get off his back.
Pearce may have given critics plenty of ammunition in the past but Farah believed it was unfair to compare the revitalised playmaker with the NSW dud of old.
As Blues halfback, Pearce has lost all five series he has played in and won just three of 12 matches.
Yet Blues coach Laurie Daley did not think twice about giving Pearce yet another Origin chance in Wednesday night’s series opener in Sydney – at five-eighth.
But Farah sounded quietly confident that Pearce would silence his Origin critics at ANZ Stadium – finally.
“There is a lot of scrutiny on him and the past, a lot of that is unfair I think,” Farah said.
“I hope everyone can get off his back and let him play his game tomorrow night because we know how good he can be for NSW.”
One wag ramped up the pressure on Pearce when they uploaded on YouTube a “highlights” reel of the Roosters No.7’s Origin gaffes.
It goes for six minutes.
Yet Pearce’s Origin form, or lack of it, had nothing to do with him missing the 2014 series.
He was overlooked due to his involvement in a Sydney nightclub incident in the lead-up to the 2014 opener.
But Farah insisted Pearce was now a different man – on and off the field.
“He’s ready. I have seen Mitch grow as a person and player in the last 18 months,” he said.
“He has really become a leader at the Roosters and you see it here as well.
“I haven’t had to say too much. I know he is in for a big game and is excited about tomorrow night.”
Farah said Pearce’s excitement in the Blues camp had rivalled that of their debutants David Klemmer and Josh Jackson, adding to what he said was a perfect preparation.
“There is a lot of excitement,” he said.
“Even guys like (Andrew) Fifita, who is back in this arena after a year off, and Mitch Pearce, they’ve been great and are just looking forward to it.
“We have had everyone training since day one which I think is important.
“We are confident. We have ticked all the boxes.
“That’s one thing, now we have to get the job done.”
For the record, Queensland coach Mal Meninga was expecting Pearce to finally shine in his 14th Origin on Wednesday night.
“I think Mitch will be very good tomorrow night,” he said of Pearce who made his Origin debut in 2008.
“He copped a bit, even in the NSW papers, in recent times.
“But we are expecting a great game from Mitchell – we have planned around him playing well.”