Mitchell Pearce should be recalled to the NSW side in place of 2014 State of Origin series winner Trent Hodkinson, according to Blues great Andrew Johns.
Sydney Roosters star halfback Pearce was a regular part of a Blues camp that suffered eight straight interstate series defeats, before he was usurped by Hodkinson last year.
Johns has been highly critical of the form of incumbent NSW halves Hodkinson and his Canterbury teammate Josh Reynolds so far this year, and he continued that on Channel Nine’s Footy Show on Sunday despite an improved showing from Reynolds in the Dogs’ win over Manly on Friday.
In a low-scoring, defence-dominated series last year, NSW scored just four tries and Johns believes Hodkinson and Reynolds don’t have the attacking spark needed to ignite the Blues attack.
“I still don’t think they are creating enough opportunities in attack,” Johns said.
“I just think they are down and confidence and down on form. They both had off season surgery and there is excuses.
“At this stage, I would say Mitchell Pearce at halfback and five-eighth I really don’t know.
“Maybe a big body like Greg Bird or you could even roll the dice and play (Josh) Dugan there.
“But I would be going a big body like Bird there.”
Former Blues skipper Brad Fittler said Hodkinson and Reynolds deserved to be given more time to press their claims.
But the NSW assistant coach said he felt Pearce and his Roosters halves partner James Maloney, the Blues’ 2013 scrumbase combination could be the way to go.
After two poor efforts in losses to Cronulla and Brisbane, Maloney returned to form in the Roosters loss to Melbourne on Saturday night.
“Maloney was excellent last night. I reckon he was probably the best player on the field,” Fittler said.
“He had so much control, he set up a couple of tries his kicking was outstanding.
“At the moment, you still have to wait for these two blokes (Hodkinson and Reynolds) , give then a week or two and then how they are going then and if not Maloney and Pearce.”
Johns however said he had serious concerns over Maloney’s defence.