Mitchell Pearce has a leadership role with Sydney Roosters despite being stripped of his captaincy duties, according to his former co-captain Jake Friend.
A mentally fresh Pearce starred in his return from an eight match ban for his Australia Day antics in the Roosters’ last-start 38-0 hammering of Newcastle, for the Tricolours’ second win of the season.
With Pearce back alongside Boyd Cordner and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (who both battled early season injuries) the Roosters look a more formidable outfit than the one that began the year with five successive losses.
“Mitch was a leader of our team and whether he has a ‘c’ beside his name or whether he is in the leadership group or not it doesn’t really matter,” Friend told AAP.
“He is definitely our onfield leader and he steers the team around and in video and around training he is pretty vocal.”
“He seems awesome. So focused, really content with where he is at. You can see that at training and you saw that in the one game he has played so far.
“For him to come back and slot straight in and to control the game like he did, shows where he is mentally, his mind is on footy.”
Pearce plays his second match this season in the final match of round 11 on Monday night as the Roosters travel to Queensland to meet Gold Coast.
Cordner said simply playing footy was the best medicine for Pearce.
Roosters back-rower Sio Siua Taukeiaho is expected be back from a month out with a knee injury to play the Titans. He will likely take the place of Eloni Vunakece on the visitors’ bench. Daniel Tupou comes in for Shaun Kenny-Dowall, who has an ankle injury.
Nathan Peats won’t run out for the Titans despite signing with them mid-week. However prop David Shillington returns for the hosts on the bench.
Gold Coast have lost five straight, their last defeat two weeks ago was a 38-0 shellacking to Melbourne. The Roosters will leap above the Titans, who are 3-6, on the NRL ladder if they win here.
* The Roosters are looking for three straight wins against the Titans for the first time after wins in each of the previous two seasons. They had won just three of their previous 10 games against them.
* The Roosters are busting the most tackles this season at an average of 29.1 per game, whilst the Titans are busting the fewest at just 17.2 per game.
* The Roosters have a great recent record on Monday Night having won eight of their past 10 matches overall since 2013, the highest win percentage of any team over this period.
* Since registering their 100th Premiership win against the Raiders in round four, the Titans have since slumped to five consecutive defeats. They have not lost six straight since late 2014.