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Laurie Daley refuses to guarantee Mitchell Pearce will avoid selection axe


Chief Sports Writer, The Sydney Morning Herald

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Is Mitchell Pearce's penalty appropriate?

Phil Gould and Andrew Webster question if Roosters halfback Mitchell Pearce's penalty is sufficient and discuss how it will affect his Origin selection.

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NSW coach Laurie Daley says has no firm idea what his halves combination will be for the Origin opener if he decides to sack wayward halfback Mitchell Pearce.

Daley confirmed he was on the verge of dropping the Roosters playmaker for the first game of the series against Queensland because of Pearce’s wild night out in Kings Cross that led to his arrest in the early hours of Sunday morning.

The reason for the hardline stance is a meeting in January of all Blues players used in last year’s Origin series. There and then, a pact was made to address the culture of the squad, not least because of the night out that led to centre Blake Ferguson's arrest for indecent assault before game two.

Mitchell Pearce looks to pass during the 2013 State of Origin series decider at ANZ Stadium.

Mitchell Pearce looks to pass during the 2013 State of Origin series decider at ANZ Stadium. Photo: Getty Images

Pearce has broken that pact less than two weeks before Daley named his team. Asked if he knew who he would pick if Pearce wasn’t named in the side next Tuesday, the coach told Fairfax Media: “I really don’t know. That’s why I’m weighing up the decision so heavily.

“We had 25 guys at a meeting and we discussed the culture we wanted to create. What’s acceptable and what is not acceptable. And we had the boundaries laid out for everyone, in terms of attitude and behaviour. Everyone was aware of it.

“I told Mitchell that if we go down that path of not picking him, he will be the first to know. It’s not a disciplinary measure, it’s more about the culture that was talked about since January and what our expectations of each other are as an Origin player. We wanted everyone to buy in, and that’s what I’m weighing up right now.”

Blues coach Laurie Daley has refused to guarantee Mitchell Pearce will avoid the selection axe for Origin I.

Blues coach Laurie Daley has refused to guarantee Mitchell Pearce will avoid the selection axe for Origin I. Photo: Getty Images

Daley’s tack comes despite the Roosters fining Pearce $20,000 and standing him for just one NRL match, clearing the way for Origin selection. It is understood Pearce would not be banned from the entire series should he miss the series opener at Suncorp Stadium on May 28.

Should the 25-year-old be overlooked, though, Daley faces a similar dilemma in selecting Roosters teammate Boyd Cordner, who was fined $5000 for his drunken behaviour alongside Pearce.

Roosters coach Trent Robinson that Pearce has been punished enough. ‘‘If they’ve decided that he’s their halfback and his punishment has been laid out this week, then if he’s their man then they should pick him,” Robinson said. “Mitchell is pretty strong. I think we saw that last year after Origin. That's Laurie's choice and Laurie has to make decisions to win the series. So if he thinks Mitchell is the man, he will pick Mitchell. If he doesn't, Mitchell will carry on. He is a strong man and he will get the job done with us.

‘‘I think the one-match for us ... They're our standards and that’s where we want to be as a club. I think it’s a fair penalty. I just hope that the disciplinary action doesn’t continue after this round. There’s no criminal circumstances around it. It’s some simple things that happen to a lot of people at the weekends but can’t happen to an NRL footballer. He’s paid his price."

All manner of halves combinations have been suggested in the last few weeks as the Blues attempt to end the Maroons’ eight-year dominance of Origin. Pearce, though, was considered a lock for the No.7 jumper. If he is not there, it is likely to jeopardise the chances of his Roosters teammate and NSW incumbent James Maloney.

While Daley would not be drawn into discussion about who his halfback would be, although Souths' Adam Reynolds appears to be on the outer. "I think he’s a good young player," Daley said. "He's getting back to where he was this time last year. He started the season a bit slower than last year, but he’s gradually improving. You want him putting pressure on Mitch."

10 comments so far

  • I agree with the concept of one punishment per crime. The $500 fine was for failing to leave licensed premises when directed to do so. The $20,000 was for bringing the game into disrepute, and it was also a bargaining tool employed by Easts to allow him to miss only one (club) game, and therefore be available for SOO1.

    So if he is to miss Game 1, it should only be because (a) the selectors prefer someone else anyway, regardless of any other consideration, and/or (b) his actions contravene the 'culture' that Daley wants for his team.

    One awaits developments with interest.

    Lewis Winders
    Date and time
    May 15, 2014, 11:08PM
    • Memo to Laurie Daley,

      If you are serious about creating this “culture” within the NSW team, then do not pick Pearce or Cordner. If they bought into this culture and then subsequently went against it, you as coach, must show that you cannot condone that activity. Otherwise, why try to create that culture in the first place ?? As a Blues supporter (and therefore a supporter of the coach) I would rather lose knowing that you are true to your word - otherwise those commitments given at the January meeting mean “jack s**t”. You are the coach – not Trent Robinson, not the Roosters management for standing him down for one match just so he can remain in the selection frame….As a player you showed us determination and character – show that to us as a coach.

      When will these players ever learn ???????

      Date and time
      May 15, 2014, 11:42PM
      • Speakman, that is very well put. If they have standards but don't maintain them, players lose respect. and once you've lost respect at this level, you've lost everything.

        Lewis Winders
        Date and time
        May 16, 2014, 9:46PM
    • Well, if this is really the case, and this meeting did take place, then Pearce should be excluded from the series on principle alone, not to mention performance. He's supposed to be a senior player. If he plays, I'm going for the maroons.

      Vung Tau
      Date and time
      May 16, 2014, 2:27AM
      • No one should be guaranteed a spot in origin before the start of the regular season. Pearce on current form alone, at club level, should not make the team.
        It is about time they start experimenting with a new half back option. Clearly the time they have spent trying to develop Pearce into an experienced campaigner has failed.
        For the amount of SoO games Pearce has, you just need to look at his highlights reel (the whole 5 mins worth) to see its not working.

        Date and time
        May 16, 2014, 6:03AM
        • The news that Pearce may not be picked is the best Origin news I've had in 5 years.

          Kermit Jagger
          Date and time
          May 16, 2014, 7:13AM
          • I'm loving how the Roosters tell the NRL how they will punish Mitchell Pearce.

            I'm loving how the Roosters tell the NSW SoO coach who they will select.

            I'm loving how the Roosters say they turn players around and the NRL should be allowing them to sign Blake Ferguson!

            I'm loving it all!

            No one stands in the way of Roosters supremacy. No one!

            Date and time
            May 16, 2014, 7:18AM
            • Laurie, no-one should be guaranteed selection. You talk about culture - automatic selection should not be part of any culture. And YOU were thinking about dropping Pearce? I thought the selectors were Bob Fulton, Bob McCarthy and Geoff Gerard.

              The Dog
              Date and time
              May 16, 2014, 9:01AM
              • @"Spekman could not have said it better.Daley is one of the true gentleman of the game.If he picks Pearce his credibility will be gone. I don't like Josh Reynolds he's a grub, but that's what we need, to stop 9 in a row. Pearce and Gardiner have let us down.If there picked I wont be watching.

                Date and time
                May 16, 2014, 7:18PM
                • Watching Souths-Storm tonight, I think NSW could do worse than Reynolds-Sutton. The Bulldogs' halves pair probably have more claim as halves per se, but a. Reynolds is also a goal kicker and Sutton can play as a loose forward if required.

                  Let's face it: at the moment, NSW does not have a Cronk or a Thurston or, if they do, they are still in primary school. So whether it's Reynolds-Sutton, Hodkinson-Reynolds, or any combination thereof, let's give a fresh pair a chance to show their stuff and give them a chance to settle in.

                  Based on performance so far this season, and Origin performance in the past, there is absolutely no reason why either Maloney or Pearce should be considered.

                  Lewis Winders
                  Date and time
                  May 16, 2014, 9:39PM

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