Sydney Roosters five-eighth James Maloney will be looking to make Laurie Daley regret his decision to drop him against the Bulldogs on Friday night. Credit: Grant Trouville. Copyright: NRL Photos.
Dumped NSW halves Mitchell Pearce and James Maloney can put the pressure back on their State of Origin successors on Friday night against a Canterbury side minus Trent Hodkinson and Josh Reynolds.
In a scenario most assumed would have been the opposite even just a few weeks ago, the Sydney Roosters go into the round-11 NRL clash at ANZ Stadium against a Bulldogs outfit weakened by Origin commitments.
NSW coach Laurie Daley preferred Hodkinson and Reynolds for Origin I on Wednesday, after their efforts in leading the Dogs to the top of the table, in stark contrast to the on and off-field battles endured by the Roosters' duo this year.
But Roosters great Luke Ricketson, who counts Pearce as a good mate, says the 25-year-old can turn the blowtorch back on Hodkinson with a dominant effort on Friday night.
"The good thing for him is that he has a game of football to prepare for and to play in pretty much straight away. He is not sitting around thinking about getting dropped," the former NSW and Australian back-rower told AAP.
"With a dominant game, he can put the pressure back on the Dogs' halves which is the way it should be.
"He will be going out there with the aim of getting everyone talking about his football.
"And I would like to think he is professional enough and passionate enough to have a big game.
"Six weeks ago, he would have been one of the first picked for NSW.
"Things obviously haven't happened the way he would have liked them to.
"But he is a great competitor and he is tough enough to be able to bounce back from what has happened."
Like the Roosters' halves, their Bulldog counterparts were seen as an interstate package by Daley.
A big game from Maloney up against replacement Dogs halfback Moses Mbye and stand-in five-eighth Reni Maitua could enhance his and Pearce's selection chances for Origin II, especially if Hodkinson and Reynolds struggle at Suncorp Stadium.
The Roosters have struggled to a 5-5 season so far, well off the pace set by the ladder-leading Dogs who have enjoyed seven successive wins.
The Dogs will also be without NSW stars Josh Morris and Tony Williams for the match against the Roosters, while the tricolours will be without Queensland back-rower Aidan Guerra and Blues three-quarters Michael Jennings and Daniel Tupou.
Regardless of the circumstances, New Zealand front-rower Sam Moa said he was glad to be lining up alongside Pearce and Maloney, with Pearce returning from a one-match club-imposed suspension.
"Mitch is back to his normal self, a few jokes here and there, but it has obviously been a tough situation for him and everyone involved," Moa said.
"He has some good friends here at the club and some good family behind him. He has certainly turned the corner and we are hoping for good things from Mitch going forward.
"While it is disappointing for him not to play in those big games, it is a bonus for us to have him and Jimmy back - two of our main players.
"But even without their halves, the Bulldogs are going to be very tough."