Finals or no finals, Mitchell Pearce says he owes it to his Sydney Roosters teammates to spend the remainder of the NRL season rebuilding the club’s winning culture.
The Roosters fall from grace has been nothing short of dramatic this year and after three successive minor premierships including the 2013 title, the club is near certain to miss the playoffs for the first time under coach Trent Robinson.
Due to injury, and suspension over his Australia Day antics Pearce has only played four games this year. In his return from a month out with a calf injury, he earned man-of-the-match honours despite the Tricolours’ 24-20 loss to Canterbury on Thursday night and has declared he will keep fighting.
“I want to keep firing for the boys because I’ve let them down this year,” Pearce said.
“Sitting out from footy at the start of the season gave me an opportunity to watch plenty of footy.
“I’ve also gone through a lot of maturity off the field. A lot of self-development.
“So, now I’m trying to take my game to another level, trying to take this team to another level.
“I’m 27 and hopefully coming into my best footy.
“That’s my focus, to be the best I can be, hopefully that influences my teammates as well.”
Pearce said it had been difficult to watch the demise of the Roosters from the sidelines this year.
“We’re winners here, we’re a proud club and proud players. (But) the culture has definitely dropped off this year,” he said.
“There have been plenty of things happen. A few obvious ones and some struggles. We’ve come off three big years where we won three minor premierships and a competition.
“So, as a club, we’re looking at this as a little down period … you can roll over or you can keep fighting.”
The second-last placed Roosters need to win all of their last nine games to qualify for the finals, a feat Pearce hasn’t give up on.
“The goal is to make the finals,” he said.
“I know that sounds ridiculous when we’re right down at the bottom of the ladder. But we’ve got to keep our standards high.
“Yes, we have to win nearly every game. But if we’re selling ourselves short on that there’s no point turning up at all.
“We’re here to make the finals.”