NSW coach Laurie Daley hasn’t ruled a line through Mitchell Pearce’s name for next month’s State of Origin opener although he admits his squad is as good as settled in his mind.
The Sydney Roosters halfback is realistically only a slight chance of retaining his spot in the NSW backline for the June 1 clash against Queensland given he’s only one game back from suspension and has only two more NRL matches to prove he’s up to the job.
There was some speculation during the week suggesting Pearce was even going to rule himself out of Origin selection to concentrate on turning around the Roosters’ dismal start to the season and his rehabilitation from alcohol issues.
However, when asked on Sunday after City had beaten Country 44-30 in Tamworth whether Pearce had contacted him to say he didn’t want to be considered for the Blues, Daley said `no’.
Nor had Daley contacted Pearce to discuss his Origin ambitions.
That would leave Pearce with games against Gold Coast and Canterbury to prove he’s ready to make the big step up after being banned for the first eight rounds.
“As I’ve said all along, I’m not worried about Origin with Mitchell, I’m worried about him playing for club and getting himself right,” Daley said in Tamworth.
The halves remain the most contentions position with Pearce’s fellow incumbent Trent Hodkinson out of form at Newcastle and South Sydney’s Adam Reynolds having only recently returned from a broken jaw.
The fullback spot remains wide open with Penrith’s Matt Moylan, North Queensland’s Lachlan Coote and St George Illawarra’s Josh Dugan in the mix.
Wests Tigers skipper Aaron Woods is set to return from an ankle injury this weekend, giving him two weeks to prove his fitness.
Despite the swirling questions about his line-up, Daley said he was relaxed about the make-up of his side for game one.
“We’re pretty much settled,” Daley said.