Pearce’s ‘unfinished business’ with Origin
Few thought this day would come. Certainly not Mitchell Pearce. But after so much State of Origin pain, the recalled NSW halfback knows exactly what this chance means. SUBSCRIBE NOW TO READ MORE.
After halfback Nathan Cleary was ruled out earlier in the day with an ankle injury, a relaxed Pearce re-emerged on the Origin scene to declare: "I've got some unfinished business."
"I'm the first one to put my hand up and say I haven't delivered completely before. It hasn't sat well for me and I get another opportunity."
Pearce, 30, is yet to enjoy an Origin series victory, having won just five of his 18 games in the sky blue jersey.
This, though, could be his defining moment.
Victory in Wednesday night's decider against Queensland will redefine Pearce's Origin legacy.
Pearce met with teammates - after they returned from the movies - at the team hotel in Bondi.
"I just love playing footy - we're living the dream. In four, five years time, when footy has finished, I will be thinking about moments like this, standing here in front of you. I'm really grateful to be here," Pearce said.
"I thought the boat had passed after the team was announced the other day. This moment, this opportunity has come along and I will give my best with what I've got at the moment. It would be nice to get a win, that's for sure.
"Sometimes after Origin I thought things (in the past) were glorified, other times I haven't delivered. Origin is about winning and it will be about winning next week.
"If we get the win, I'm sure there will be a nice photo in the paper on Thursday, which will be positive. That will make us all feel good. If we lose, I'm sure I'll get the blame. That's part and parcel.
"There are plenty of guys with better records in Origin than me but I get an opportunity to win this game."
Few could doubt his form this season for Newcastle has been simply superb. And teammates claim he is more mature, hardened and considered than the raw young kid prematurely thrown into State of Origin back in 2008.
Pearce will overtake immortal Andrew Johns as NSW's most capped Origin halfback on Wednesday night.
"I'm stoked to be here," Pearce said. "I'm over the moon.
"I'm really comfortable in the leadership and the footy I'm playing at Newcastle. I feel like I have done a really good job, especially over the last three months to get our team in a really good position.
"As halfback, I take pride in that."
It will be fascinating to see who runs the side - Pearce or five-eighth James Maloney. Pearce actually went to Maloney's wedding.
Suddenly, Newcastle has two players in the NSW team - Pearce and David Klemmer - after both were originally overlooked.
"The first thought I had after the last game was how hard Queensland will come back - they always do," Pearce said.
Pearce has played 222 NRL games for a strong winning success rate of 54.1 per cent.