Daniel Henningsen – Did Pearce Cost Us Origin?

A week has passed since another heartbreaking origin series defeat. The dust has settled, and everyone has come to grip with the embarrassing reality that Queensland have stretched their streak to 8.

In the emotional heat immediately succeeding game 3, many were quick to blame NSW no. 7 Mitchell Pearce for the 12-10 defeat. At around 10:30pm on Wednesday night, upset Blues supporters demanded Pearce’s head on a stake. “The worst origin halfback ever” was a phrase coined by many to describe him. By now everyone is probably sick of the talk surrounding Pearce, and everyone is keen to forget origin and focus on their club’s final aspirations, unless you’re a Parramatta supporter of course. However, the question must be asked:

Was Pearce the sole reason we lost in Game 3? No.

All members of the NSW spine let scoring opportunities slip out of their grip, quite literally for Dugan; and it would take an extremely ignorant man to deny that Queensland were by far the better side on Wednesday night.

One word you would use to describe Pearce is effort. You cannot deny how hard this bloke tries, he’s a competitor, leaving everything on the field. One word you cannot use to describe Pearce is composure. This is what separates him from the likes of Cronk and Thurston on the big stage, his inability to compose himself and organize the team at origin level.

Using Game 3 as an example: 53 minutes into the second half, down by 4, Jennings makes a good run down the right side, Queensland defence scattered 10-meters out from their line, Pearce receives the ball and grubbers for himself, miskicks it and Queensland are off the hook. After that play Pearce was unable to re-compose himself, evident through his poor kicking game and the un-organized fashion of the Blues attack late in the match.

Despite this, Pearce is merely one man, there were 12 others on the field that could have produced the decisive play, especially Farah or Maloney; so to blame Pearce entirely for a 2-point loss is a bit tough.

Nevertheless, he was blamed, leading to many fans questioning why Adam Reynolds had not been chosen for the decider. Such retaliation can be easily made from the stands, but when you look at the immense pressure Pearce was under at that moment:

Looking down the barrel of 8 series losses, 4 of which he was apart of, his representative career in the balance, an entire state counting on him to conduct a scoring play against the best Maroons side ever, never has a halfback in history been under such pressure. And he cracked, as most would.

If you were to throw 22-year old debutant Reynolds into the same situation, as many were suggesting, I am doubtful that a different outcome would have been achieved.

Pearce is a great performer at club level, with 17-try assists (2nd in NRL) and 14-line break assists (1st in NRL) this season, and the Roosters sitting second on the table behind such form. But he has had years to make the jump to representative level, and after 12 origin matches you’d have thought he’d have dominated at least one game?

It would take either several injuries or immortal like form for us to be seeing Junior in the sky blue again any time soon.

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