Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson wants Mitchell Pearce to take his game to another level in the countdown to the NRL finals series.
After being given a week off from Roosters training, the incumbent NSW State of Origin halfback was rested from the side’s 38-22 win over Newcastle on Sunday.
And after a week away from football, Robinson has challenged his skipper to become the NRL’s finest playmaker.
“I want him to be the best halfback in the competition running into the back end, the last month and into the semis,” Robinson said.
“I thought a freshen up would be the way to go,” he said.
Robinson considered putting the 26-year-old on ice last week but didn’t want to ruin his 200th game celebrations.
“Origin was big, he came straight back in and played against Penrith that weekend and has played a lot of minutes,” Robinson said.
“I thought it was time last week but it was 200 at home, and I think he’s been playing some good football – he set up some good tries last week and all that.”
The Roosters start their run to the finals against Parramatta on Saturday before continuing against competition heavyweights Brisbane, Manly, and South Sydney.
The last three matches in particular, where he faces off against elite halfbacks Ben Hunt, Daly Cherry-Evans and Adam Reynolds, provide a stern test for Pearce.
Five-eighth James Maloney conceded some teammates were off their game during last year’s finals campaign, but denied Pearce needed to reach No.1 status.
“We don’t need him to do that,” Maloney said.
“We need him to play his best footy in this footy side.
“He’s had a big year, so the rest will hopefully freshen him up.
“Last year there were a few guys flat towards the back end, so that’s the goal with giving players the rest here and there.”