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   Jul 05

State of Origin: Blues halfback Mitchell Pearce speaks of anxiety before Origin recall

Support: Mitchell Pearce feels comfortable in his NSW skin. Photo: Brendan EspositoClick here for full State of Origin coverageThe lowdown: State of Origin III
Nanjing Night Net

Flashes of anxiety started to fill Mitchell Pearce’s mind as he inched towards an Origin recall. It was an arena which had burnt him before. He questioned if he could handle coming into a winning side. Would he be accepted? What if he failed? The self doubt crept in.

“No doubt there was anxiety before you come into a camp,” Pearce said. “I remember earlier in the year when there was talk [of my selection] – while you want to be here it wasn’t something I wanted to think about too much.

“There is no doubt that after the guys come off a winning series there is lot of pressure on you. I’m proud of myself because I think I have handled this whole situation pretty well. Me of the past would have been pretty rattled and I wouldn’t have handled it. I haven’t looked into that stuff. There were [negative] thoughts there but it’s made me switch on.”

It’s that mental preparation, Pearce said, which separates him from the player much maligned for his previous Origin performances. Pearce has cut a relaxed figure around the team’s Coffs Harbour training base. He – for the first time – is at ease with his selection and has been happy with his two Origin performances since his recall.

“I’ve got a lot of motivation,” Pearce said. “I have worked extremely hard in the last couple of years. I know what works for me. [I’ve changed my] mental preparation more than anything. I’ve always been a good trainer and trained tough but mentally I’ve become calmer and balanced with my preparation. The right thoughts going into a game and knowing my role and being clear.

“Good footy, good preparation you start to clear the shit out of your body and mind. When it works you’ve just got to grow off that and add things if you need to.”

That’s not to say the negative thoughts have not filtered into his mind at some point this series. He did not know how he would be received by his teammates. After all, he thought, he was replacing a guy in Josh Reynolds who had done the job for NSW the series before. Pearce even felt the “haters” outside the football bubble had swung his way.

“The big thing was the coaches and teammates wanted me in here,” Pearce said. “To get that feeling and support knowing you’ve earned your spot it’s something that made me proud.

“The fact they dropped the guy that was there last year and brought me back in showed they trusted me. It was a sign of confidence and trust. A lot of the haters on the outside were supportive of it. It wasn’t my focus but it was nice to have that support. I haven’t heard as much [hate] so maybe they have gone away.”

Pearce knows what may come his way should the Blues fail to win on Wednesday night. His last series loss in 2013 still eats away at him. He shut himself out from the outside world for about a week after the defeat before bouncing back to lead the Roosters to premiership success. Pearce believes he is better placed to handle whatever comes his way.

“I’m a thinker,” Pearce said. “I think a lot about results, losses and wins. That’s the biggest thing I’ve changed. Being a bit more balanced with that. I’m seeing it a bit clearer. It can weight you down. You’re inconsistent when you’re taking that stuff to heart all the time.

“It’s a big moment for me. I grew a lot out of [the 2013] series. If I think about it now it hurts me. That all adds up to your motivation. It’s good to draw on those sorts of moments to help you the next time.”

Pearce watched on with mixed emotions last year as the Blues lifted the shield. It is a moment he has spent plenty of time hoping to replicate.

“I’ve thought about it a lot,” Pearce said. “Just the same as winning grand final and things you aspire to do. I’ve visualised and thought about it a lot. I have plenty of hunger inside me. It won’t be through a lack of heart that’s for sure.”

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

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