The influence of suspended halfback Mitchell Pearce on Sydney Roosters playmaking rookies Jackson Hastings and Jayden Nikorima is set to have a crucial impact upon the NRL club’s early season form.
Pearce has been absent from the Roosters set-up since his Australia Day antics. He returned to training on Monday to help pick up the pieces after the Tricolours’ round one thumping by South Sydney.
Hastings and Nikorima, on his NRL debut, struggled against the Rabbitohs.
Former Brisbane utility Nikorima said Pearce has been instrumental in his development thus far.
“He was a big influence on me signing here, so throughout the first half of the pre-season he helped me improve my game and having him back and his words around the boys are encouraging,” Nikorima said.
“It is good to see his face again. He has sat me down and said what I can do to improve my game. It is always good to hear from an Origin half.”
The Roosters 42-10 loss to Souths was a nightmare debut for Nikorima.
“It wasn’t the start I was looking for, I thought I could have offered a bit more to the team,” he said.
“I had a good chat with Robbo (coach Trent Robinson) and he just said to keep my head high and try and get my hands on the ball a bit more next time.
“And the older boys just told me it doesn’t happen often, they all just gave me a big hug and told me to get over it and get ready for next week.
Nikorima was confident he and good mate Hastings, who has played just 20 first grade games, could strike up an effective combination during Pearce’s eight game ban.
“Jackson and I have spoken since Sunday about what we can do better in terms of controlling the team,” he said.
“He has been there before he is helping me a long the way.”