Recalled playmaker Mitchell Pearce says he won’t give NSW coach Laurie Daley any reason to regret supplying his shot at Origin redemption, as he seeks to regain the support of critical Blues fans.
Pearce was named in Daley’s revamped Blues side on Tuesday, with the Sydney Roosters halfback at five-eighth and partnering out-of-sorts Canterbury No.7 Trent Hodkinson.
The NRL premiership-winning 26-year-old said he was treating his recall as a way of drawing a line in the sand following less-than-convincing past Origin performances.
Pearce’s Origin record read 12 games, 3 wins, 9 losses, 0 series victories before he was axed for last year’s winning series following a late-night incident in Kings Cross.
He was replaced by debutant Hodkinson, who played all three 2014 matches and scored the series-clinching try in game two.
But Pearce’s blistering displays for the Roosters this season demanded another chance starting in Game One at ANZ Stadium on May 27.
Older and wiser, Pearce said he hoped his improved running game, so often on show at club level, would transfer to the Origin arena.
“I’ve been working really hard individually,” he said.
“I feel like I’ve developed as a player – the last time I played Origin there’s no secret I didn’t have too much success, personally and as a team.
“I feel very proud and privileged to be trusted by the coaching staff to bring me back into the winning side, and I certainly won’t let them down.”
Pearce admitted it had been difficult not to be bothered by public criticism surrounding his form at representative level, and hoped fans could let the stigma go and get behind him this time around.
“It’s nicer than getting booed, that’s for sure,” he said.
“It doesn’t feel nice deep down, and it’s not something that I’m proud of.
“Not having much success in Origin is not something I get pumped about, but it’s something that I’m also looking forward to hopefully changing.”
It’ll be an interesting series for Pearce, who hasn’t once played at five-eighth throughout his first grade career.
But he said he wasn’t nervous about the shift, and Daley had already taken him and Hodkinson through their roles.
“There’s not too much difference these days depending what style you play.
“I probably play more of an original halfback style at the Roosters, on the ball a lot.
“Lozza’s already taken me through the structures he’d like us to play, and I feel really comfortable playing five-eighth.
“I play my best when I run the ball and support my forwards and play what I see.
“I’ve been doing that well at the Roosters and it’s something I’ll be focusing on I’m sure.
“You get picked in these teams for what you do week in week out, so I’ll be being myself and hopefully delivering that to the team.”