Contrite but under no illusions, Mitchell Pearce is pleading for a fair go as debate rages over what punishment he deserves for his drunken Australia Day antics.
Pearce admits he has no real idea how long he’ll be sidelined for, as speculation around any potential suspension ranges from four weeks to an entire NRL season.
The Sydney Roosters have delayed any decision on the NSW State of Origin playmaker’s sanction until after considering how other players have been disciplined for similar alcohol-related mishaps.
Ultimately, though, the 26-year-old’s fate is in the hands of the NRL integrity unit, which is under pressure to throw the book at Pearce for being captured on video simulating a lewd act with a dog and making an unwanted advance towards a female during his drunken escapade.
“It’s put my career in jeopardy right now,” Pearce told Fox Sport’s NRL 360 on Tuesday night.
Since returning on Sunday from a four-week stint in a Thai rehabilitation clinic, Pearce has been stripped of the Roosters’ co-captaincy and removed from the club’s leadership group.
He hopes any further sanctioning won’t be too harsh.
“I’ve been honest since I got off the plane. I’ve taken full ownership for everything I’ve done. I now accept that I have a problem,” the fallen star said.
“I’ve said that publicly and it’s something that I’ve worked really hard on over four weeks.
“I’ve got some things that I need to get into my lifestyle that will help me be a better person, basically.
“Right now, I’m under no illusions. The video was humiliating, embarrassing and it brought the game into disrepute.
“And I can’t ever take that back but I feel like I’m doing my best to change and, hopefully, the punishment’s fair.”
In considering Pearce’s fate, the Roosters have noted their halfback has already missed more than a month of training since being stood down by the club.
“He was also unavailable for the NRL Auckland Nines; the club’s training camp in Dubai; the World Club Series; and he will miss the club’s opening fixture against Souths,” the Roosters said in the statement announcing his demotion.
Pearce is expected to train with teammates on Monday for the first time since the incident.
He concedes he deserved to lose the captaincy and has labelled himself the worst role model in the NRL.
While he denies being an alcoholic, Pearce accepts he has a binge-drinking problem.
“There’s been a lot of negative effect from alcohol in my life – not just this incident,” he said.
His father Wayne, a former Test captain, is a famous teetotaller whose own father died from alcoholism.
“There’s an alcohol problem in our family in general – genetics.
“But I’ve got a living person there who doesn’t drink who can help and he’s my father. Dad’s obviously a great role model.
“But alcohol is not going to be part of my life for a while. I’m not saying ever.
“But that’s the way I’m attacking it – one day at a time.”