23 May 2017

Pearce ready to turn the tide for NSW

10:42 am on 23 May 2017

NSW legend Andrew Johns has predicted a different Mitchell Pearce to carve out his rugby league legacy over the next five years, beginning with his return to State of Origin next week.

The Roosters captain Mitchell Pearce playing for NSW State of Origin side. 2015.

Mitchell Pearce. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The oft-maligned Pearce was named as one of six changes, including recalls for Jarryd Hayne and Brett Morris, to the Blues team that claimed last year's dead rubber.

Two years after being on the receiving end of one of the greatest sledges in Origin history from Johnathan Thurston, Pearce will return to Suncorp Stadium in the No. 7 jumper.

Pearce had been at Thurston the whole series before the Blues went down 52-6 in the decider, and the Queensland five-eighth let his counterpart know all about it.

"Oh, I just let Pearcey know he should probably get a photo with Wally (Lewis)'s statue because that's the closest he was going to get to holding the shield," Thurston said at the time.

However Johns believes a matured Pearce is now in career-best form, and on the cusp of leaving his mark in the interstate arena.

Johns was speaking to a crowd of over 500 - including Pearce himself - at the annual True Blues' dinner on Monday when he was asked about the selection of the Sydney Roosters star.

"He just looks a lot calmer. He's at that stage of his career as a halfback, around that 26-27, that's when you're playing your best footy.

"For Mitchell, it's an empty canvas now. He decides what's going to happen the next few years. He's going to build his legacy in the next three, four, five years.

"I have no doubt it's going to go up and up. You'll see a different performance from Mitchell this Origin. I look forward to sitting back and watching him play. I'm really excited for him."

Roosters teammate Boyd Cordner was appointed as the new Blues' captain, and one of his first points of order was for Pearce to stand up for the team.

"I think he's starting to realise how good he is and just the maturity he's shown, he's taken that next step of being a good player to a great player," Cordner said.

"You can see in his performances this year that he's in the game for 80 minutes and really stands up in the tough times that we've needed him at the Roosters.

"We'll need him to do the same for NSW."