The Origin nightmares Pearce can’t escape
JOHNATHAN Thurston and Darren Lockyer, the chief architects of Mitchell Pearce's Origin nightmares, believe the Blues halfback carries scars from his decade of failure in sky blue
Former Maroons duo Darren Lockyer and Johnathan Thurston have urged Queensland to put early pressure on Pearce to prise open old wounds in Origin III at Sydney's ANZ Stadium.
Back in sky blue after a two-year absence, Pearce runs out for the decider at Homebush armed with one of the worst win-loss records in State of Origin's 39-year history.
The 30-year-old has won just five of 18 Origin games for a 27 per cent success rate, having lost all seven series he has contested dating back to his debut in the NSW No.7 jumper in 2008.
In 1411 minutes of Origin football, Pearce has made just two line breaks.
Ex-Maroons playmaker Thurston was Pearce's primary nemesis, famously sledging him in the 2015 decider, while Lockyer steered Queensland to victory as skipper in the Blues halfback's first full series in 2011.
While Lockyer insists Pearce is a more composed and mature playmaker to his darkest days in the NSW jumper, the now Queensland selector urged Maroons players to pick at his scar tissue from the opening seconds.
"It would be natural for Mitchell Pearce to have some self-doubts," said Lockyer, the 36-game Origin champion.
"Queensland need to put some scoreboard pressure on Pearce early in the game while there will be some trepidation.
"He is coming into a team that won well in the last game (38-6 in Perth), so the guys around him will have a lot of confidence and he will have to strike a combination with James Maloney, with whom he won a premiership at the Roosters in 2013.
"A lot will be made of Pearce's past record from 18 Origin games and seven losing series, but he is better equipped to perform in this arena than what he has been in his last stint in the sky blue jumper.
"Times have changed for Pearce. In the past, he was up against (Cameron) Smith, Thurston, (Cooper) Cronk and (Billy) Slater, but now he is playing the best football of his career.
"At 30, he is more attuned to his game, so Queensland need to test him early."
Thurston, who handed Pearce a 16-10 loss in his NSW Origin debut in 2008, says the Blues veteran will be determined to atone for his turbulent past.
"Obviously there is a lot of mental scars from those years," he said.
"But he seems like he's in a more relaxed place now.
"Pearce is coming up with the right options this year at the right time. He's had seven man-of-the-match awards in a row for Newcastle, so he comes in with a lot of confidence and he hasn't had that in the past."
THE BIGGEST LOSERS
Worst win percentages in State of Origin history.
Brad Thorn (Qld) Played 11, won 1, 9.1%
Kurt Gidley (NSW) Played 12, won 3, 25%
Des Hasler (NSW) Played 12, won 3, 25%
Brett Morris (NSW) Played 15, won 4, 26.7%
Ben Creagh (NSW) Played 11, won 3, 27.3%
Mitchell Pearce (NSW) Played 18, won 5, 27.8%
Gorden Tallis (Qld) Played 17, won 5, 29.4%
Matthew Bowen (Qld) Played 10, won 3, 30.0%
Jamie Lyon (NSW) Played 10, won 3, 30.0%
Julian O'Neill (Qld) Played 10, won 3, 30.0%
Andrew Fifita (NSW) Played 10, won 3, 30.0%