NSW State of Origin skipper Paul Gallen has come out in defence of besieged state teammate Mitchell Pearce, saying the Blues five-eighth “only really hurt himself”.
Pearce’s NRL career currently hangs by a thread after a video emerged of him simulating a sex act with a dog at a boozy Australia Day party.
The Sydney Roosters captain has been indefinitely stood down by the club pending an investigation into the incident, with a punishment to be ratified by the NRL’s integrity unit.
While the governing body is expected to come down hard on Pearce, Gallen said his Origin teammate hadn’t hurt anyone and was concerned for Pearce’s welfare.
“I’m a close personal friend of of Mitchell’s, I like the kid a lot. My biggest thought at the moment is for Mitchell’s wellbeing,” Gallen said ahead of his boxing bout in Townsville.
“He hasn’t hurt anyone. His actions have only really hurt himself I believe.”
The Cronulla skipper was also critical of the person who reportedly profited a handsome $60,000 for the footage.
“People make mistakes. We all make mistakes and unfortunately when it involves us guys, those mistakes generally appear to be bigger,” he said.
“The environment we live in today is an absolute fishbowl and people are willing to profit out of that and things can go wrong very quickly as is what has happened in this case.
“My heart is with Mitchell at the moment and I just really hope that, first and foremost, his welfare is okay.”
Gallen was confident the Roosters and the NRL would hand Pearce the required penalty.
“The Roosters are a very strong club, they’re very well governed. They will investigate it thoroughly, as will the NRL, and they will come up with a sufficient outcome,” he said.
Pearce has played 15 games for NSW since making his Origin debut in 2008, but has yet to win a series.