Pearce Wants To Become The Hunter
It was the post-game spray to end all post-game sprays, and Blues halfback Mitchell Pearce agrees with some of the comments legendary playmaker Andrew Johns made when dissecting New South Wales' 18-16 loss to the Maroons in Game Two.
Speaking in his role as a Channel Nine commentator, Johns lashed the Blues for their inability to target injured Maroons star Johnathan Thurston while also lambasting his former state for deviating from the game plan in attack.
The Blues were on track to wrap up the series at home but blew a 16-6 half-time lead, leaving them with the unenviable task of heading north for the decider.
"He's an Immortal of the game and Joey reads the play better than anyone," Pearce told media outside the team's Kingscliff hotel on Wednesday morning.
"Some of his comments were accurate; there was some dumb footy, some ill-disciplined footy and some lack of control in the second half, so Joey was right in a few of the areas he raised. He's a passionate NSW fan like we all are and we don't like losing.
"Whenever you lose a big game like that you come off and everyone's got the black dog. I've got a lot of time for Joey and he's just a passionate NSW fan who wants us to win. We got pretty close but he was just disappointed with how we finished the game off and he's probably pretty right."
Johns, who is currently in his second year at the Roosters as the club's halves coach, had a conversation with Pearce and Tricolours mentor Trent Robinson following the game, but according to the current Blues No.7, there was nothing sinister about their conversation.
"It always gets blown up a bit more [than it is]," he continued.
"I didn't spend too much time talking with Joey… I speak with Joey all the time obviously with him working with the club.
"We had a brief chat. I agreed to disagree with a couple of things that he said, but like I said, I've got the utmost respect for Andrew Johns. He's the greatest player to pull on this No.7 jersey so I'll listen to his advice as much as I can.
"The chat that me, him and Robbo had was purely about improving our game."
Regardless of what was said, it's clear Pearce will want to prove a point when the series returns to Brisbane on July 12.
The Blues got the job done at Suncorp Stadium in Origin I and were the better side for most of the game in Sydney before they stopped playing footy.
Pearce is confident that if his side can replicate the game plan from the first 140 minutes of the series then they should be able to get the job done in Game Three; the only issue is making sure they don't repeat the same mistakes that left them in this position needing to win a decider in enemy territory.
"There was lots of good stuff for 50-60 minutes. I think we shut up shop and didn't play the smartest footy for the last 15-20 minutes," he said of the Game Two collapse.
"We stopped being the hunter, I felt, and lost our momentum with a lot of errors and poor-discipline came off the back of that.
"I think we would have tried to attack the game [if we had our time again]. I think we tried to hold on to the win in attack and defence, therefore we lost our momentum and lost a bit of our shape.
"When you try to hold on to a win, you lose your control pretty quickly and the momentum swings, especially in Origin against the quality of players they've got. I think we stopped being the hunter.
"We know what it takes to win, especially in this series. We've shown in a lot of our footy the style that we need to play to beat Queensland. We believe in winning this series and that starts today in our preparation."
This article first appeared on NRL.com