Cordner Lauds 'Inspirational' Pearce
There are some players who will shy away when the game is in the balance, but Roosters halfback Mitchell Pearce proved again on Sunday afternoon that he is the man for the clutch moments with a crucial 76th-minute try to put an end to a furious Bulldogs comeback.
Pearce has become the undisputable go-to man for the Roosters in 2017, with the Blues halfback-in-waiting scoring all four of his tries this season in the final 20 minutes of games.
His willingness to take the line on has been an inspiration to his teammates, while his lengthy field goal drought was broken with back-to-back one-pointers in rounds eight and nine.
"I feel like he's had his best ever year in the last 20 minutes of games; it's the simplest way I can explain it," Roosters coach Trent Robinson said after the 24-18 win over the Bulldogs.
"I don't know if you've noticed but there have probably been more tries. I think he's scored some tries at the backend of games as well. He took them on pretty early as well [today].
"Toughness has never been an issue for 'Ju' but he's actually showing it more and more in the way that he's running the ball and he's happy to do that.
"I guess the bits people are talking about are not just passing it to someone else; it's him taking the line on and trying to score tries and him kicking field goals, so there's a lot of choice around him. There's a long way to go in that, but he's made a big step forward in that.
"People as they get older start thinking more long-term, and in footy terms, some people never get there. Some guys like (Johnathan) Thurston and (Cooper) Cronk got there at an early age, and now 'Pearcey' is at that point where I feel he's getting there."
Roosters co-captain Boyd Cordner described Pearce as "inspirational" following Sunday's win and praised him for his willingness to put his hand up in the clutch moments.
"He doesn't take himself out of the game – he's always in the game no matter what with every set and that's really important for a team like us with the forward pack that we've got," Cordner said.
"To have his voice and to see him taking charge and leading the way, it's inspirational.
"In the backend of games some people can pull themselves out because it can be a bit tough, but he's taken it head on this year and that's what separates the good from the great players. He's starting to realise he's a great player."
This article first appeared on NRL.com