A “humiliated” Mitchell Pearce says he has a long road ahead to earn back respect as he arrived back in Australia to face the music over the infamous Australia Day video.
The Sydney Roosters halfback has spent the last month in a Thailand rehabilitation centre to treat alcohol issues and is preparing to learn his fate from his club and the NRL.
The 26-year-old was stood down last month after a video was released that included him simulating sex with a dog.
He flew back into Sydney airport on Sunday morning just four days out from the start of the season and is expected to this week learn his punishment.
He’s reportedly set to receive a $50,000 fine and be suspended for at least six weeks, with his fate to be decided when he appears before the Roosters board.
A remorseful Pearce said he hoped to resume playing as soon as possible but was ready to receive whatever was coming to him.
“I’m coming back here with a clear head and I’ve got a lot of people to earn respect off,” said Pearce.
“So whatever my punishment is I’ll be copping that on the chin.
“I love footy and it’s something I’ve missed a lot being around my mates and being around footy. But I’ve deserved the punishment. I totally humiliated myself and a lot of other people. I’m not hiding from anything. I’m here to cop whatever comes.”
The NSW State of Origin playmaker admitted he had a difficult task to earn back respect.
“It’s been a really challenging four weeks,” Pearce said.
“It was something I’ve really needed to do and the hard work starts for me now.
“I’ve got a lot of people to earn respect back off.”
The video was sold to a number of media outlets, and the Roosters are reportedly seeking legal advice about whether they can sue the individual who sold it.
The broadcast of the video has also been criticised by the Rugby League Players Association and Pearce’s friends and teammates, saying it represented a breach of privacy and trust.
However Pearce said he had no ill-will towards the person.
“I’ve got no hard feelings about that,” Pearce said.