In-form Pearce never more motivated
Fresh off the back of his most composed performance in 2014, Mitch Pearce has revealed he's "never been more motivated" to prove the doubters wrong as the Roosters warm to their task of securing back-to-back premierships.
With a hand in three second-half tries in the space of 15 minutes, Pearce guided the premiers to a hard-fought 24-12 win over the Storm after the visitors had made practically all of the running inside the first hour.
Pearce's game-breaking efforts after half-time came in response to a wet weather masterclass from opposite number Cooper Cronk in the first 40 minutes, and continued the axed NSW halfback's impressive resurgence over the back end of the season.
Speaking to Triple M on Sunday, Pearce admitted the early-morning arrest at a Kings Cross nightspot that cost him his sky blue jumper and a $20,000 club imposed fine had spurred his stellar run of form over the past month.
"I was more rattled by the actual incident that happened," Pearce said.
"It was a big week and was pretty full on.
"But after I worked out what was going to happen I really just knuckled down and I've never been more motivated.
"I totally just focused on the club and training as hard as I could and that's all you can do, that's when I play my best."
In an ominous sign for the rest of the competition, Pearce did not hesitate in comparing his current mindset to this time last year, when he responded to the disappointment of NSW's eighth-straight series defeat with a career-best run of form that swept the Roosters to their first NRL title in over a decade.
"Last year I came out [of Origin] and I had disappointment as well but I came out of there really motivated," Pearce said.
"I've got that sort of feeling and a similar headspace to what I was last year. I feel really motivated... and if you've got a goal there and you just want to prove people wrong that's what motivates you."
With Thursday night's blockbuster against South Sydney looming as a potential minor premiership decider just as it did 12 months ago, the sight of both Pearce and halves partner James Maloney at their scheming best is a welcome one at Roosters HQ.
While a battle with the Rabbitohs' Adam Reynolds is likely to be scuppered by the one-match ban the Bunnies No.7 is facing for a lifting tackle against the Bulldogs, Pearce said he will take plenty of confidence out his performance in the playmaking duel with Cronk. Ditto the Roosters' gritty effort against a battle hardened Melbourne outfit.
"No doubt subconsciously you want to get up for challenges against guys like that," Pearce said.
"Cooper Cronk's the premier half in the game, and if you can say that you half matched him or helped get your team over the line it's a nice feeling.
"I thought he and Cameron Smith totally controlled field position in the first half and we had to work really hard to get back into the game.
"And that was the most pleasing thing; through our kicking game and through our general game with our forwards and nice combos getting us back in the game.
"It was a good win; we were under the pump for pretty much the back end of the second half.
"Obviously we had a couple of big wins against the tigers and the Warriors but people probably still had a couple of question marks against us still, as they might still do.
"But to come up against the Big Three that ask a lot of questions of your defence, it was a big challenge for us. And with the amount of possession they had and those players it was a big leap forward for us."