James Maloney believes the State of Origin career of his premiership winning halves partner Mitchell Pearce is far from over.
NSW coach Laurie Daley considered calling up Pearce for State of Origin III for the injured Adam Reynolds but decided against it because he felt it would put too much undue pressure on the Sydney Roosters star.
Pearce returned to form with a man-of-the-match effort in the Roosters’ loss to Canterbury last weekend in just his fourth game of the NRL season due to suspension and a calf injury.
And current NSW pivot Maloney, who combined with Pearce for the Roosters’ 2013 premiership and played all three Origin games with him that year, said the 27-year-old has shown he still has the skills to play for the Blues.
“It is great for Mitch that he was considered,” Maloney said from the Blues’ Coffs Harbour base on Thursday.
“There is no doubt he is still a very good halfback option for NSW. He played awesome against the Bulldogs the other day. He has had limited games back and he sort of kicks off where he left off, he is a professional player like that.
“He is always going to be there in the frame for NSW, he is still only young and he is one of the best halves in the state.”
Pearce played alongside Trent Hodkinson in the halves for the Blues in all three Origin games last year.
The son of NRL great Wayne Pearce has often worn the brunt of criticism following a NSW series loss. It is one of the reasons why Daley sought to “protect” him.
“I caught up with Mitch a few weeks back and he is doing really well, the scrutiny would all come from you guys (the media)” Maloney said.
“He has copped a pretty hard wrap through Origin and it has always seemed to be his fault when NSW lost, which wasn’t the case.
“He has always taken that really well, the way he has fought back at club level after copping that criticism.
“That is a credit to him, he is one of the better options for NSW in the halves here, and there will be plenty more footy for him back here with the Blues.”