As the New South Wales Blues line up against Queensland, looking to break their seven year stranglehold on the State Of Origin series, one player has more on the line than anyone else.
After getting chance after chance to prove himself at State Of Origin level, this is Mitchell Pearce’s last chance to become “That player”.
If New South Wales wins game three the chances are good that Pearce can book his place in all three games again next season. That may anger fans, but that is how New South Wales selectors work.
If New South Wales loses the game and their 8th straight series, it is likely to be the end of the Mitchell Pearce Experiment. Adam Reynolds is waiting in the wings. Pearce will not be able to hold onto his place if the Blues lose.
It is rare that Rugby League offers up such a pivotal game in a players career. The one that sticks out most in my mind was Andrew Johns return to to the State Of Origin arena in game two in 2005.
By then, Johns career was starting to wind down. He was often injured and in and out of the Newcastle Knights side. After being called into the Blues team with limited preparation, Johns completely dominated the game. His performance was a great moment in State Of Origin history and cemented his place in the games history as a big game player.
For Pearce, the goals are not quite as high. A loss would see Pearce join the likes of Jarrod Mullen, Brett Finch and Matt Orford. Decent clubs players, but nothing more than that.
Certain players at State Of Origin level are markers in the games history. They are the players that will be listed in the games history books. The ones that will be used as a guide for future greats. Other players come and go, hardly rating a mention.
As of right now, Mitchell Pearce’s State Of Origin care hardly rates a mention. A big performance and a series win would be the first step towards possibly changing that.
The pressure is on, and I think Pearce himself knows that this game is make or break for his representative career.
Good luck Mitchell…