Pressure on Pearce to fix his stray boot

NSW halfback Mitchell Pearce has admitted his kicking game has to improve in Origin III if the Blues are to win the series decider.
Nanjing Night Net

With Wednesday night’s clash at Suncorp Stadium being Pearce’s seventh consecutive Origin appearance, the Sydney Roosters playmaker appears to have established himself as NSW’s long-term halfback.

However, there has been criticism of his kicking game – particularly his last-tackle options – and Pearce acknowledged it was an area he had to work on.

While the Blues forwards have outplayed their Queensland rivals in both matches of the series so far, NSW are yet to enjoy the benefit of a repeat set from trapping a Maroons player in goal off a kick.

In contrast, the Blues were forced to defend their own line after a goal line drop-out three times in the May 23 series opener at Etihad Stadium and six times in June 13’s Origin II at ANZ Stadium.

”I definitely think our last plays can be better. We have got to build a bit more pressure,” Pearce said. ”We have got a great forward pack here and there are a couple of areas in my game I know I have got to improve on.

”The big thing is getting a few more restarts and building more pressure. We let ourselves down, or I know that I did, in that area and there are a few areas like that we need to execute better.”

Pearce has a habit of putting the ball into the air on the last tackle in the hope one of his outside backs can outleap their opponents to score rather than grubber it into the in-goal to force a repeat set. He kicked longer in Origin II than he had in the opening game, gaining 531 metres from his 15 kicks compared to 312m from 11 kicks in the opener, but the ball seemed to regularly find Maroons fullback Billy Slater or wingers Brent Tate and Darius Boyd.

Slater ran the ball 154m from 10 kick returns in Origin II – more than the NSW back three of Brett Stewart (two runs for 26m), Jarryd Hayne (five runs for 35m) and Akuila Uate (two runs for 26m) combined. Tate also made 64m from four kick returns and Boyd ran the ball 42m in his three runs from kicks.

”We got criticised a bit for not finding space but Slater is the best I have ever seen for getting to the ball on the full, to be honest,” Pearce said.

Not surprisingly, the 23-year-old Blues halfback welcomed the omission of Slater from the Maroons side due to a knee injury sustained in Origin II, and he should be expected to find the ground more with Greg Inglis deputising at fullback.

”It is certainly a bonus,” he said of Slater’s absence. ”Billy is one of the best ever – if not the best – but when you throw Inglis back there, he is a genius too. They have got a great side all across the park. We have just got to worry about ourselves and we know there are a couple of areas we can improve in.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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