Mr 23 per cent Pearce ready for JT

Twenty-three per cent. 

It's the number that should have Roosters fans spraying their orange mocha frappuccinos in horror.

Twenty-three per cent is star halfback Mitch Pearce's win percentage in the 17 games he's faced off against Cowboys ace Johnathan Thurston at club and Origin level.

Pearce has been in just about career-best touch as he heads into Friday night's sudden-death showdown with the Cowboys. 

Now to keep the Roosters alive in 2014, he'll not only have to continue his Superman-esque form but do so against the bloke who's proved his kryptonite since day dot of his first grade career.

Way back in Round 2, 2007, Thurston ensured Pearce would never forget his NRL debut after being thrown in the deep end at just 17 against the Cowboys.

Kicking off a year in which he would go on to claim a second Dally M gong, Thurston produced a halves master class for the youngster opposite him, racking up a 20-point haul from two tries and six goals as North Queensland belted the Chooks 43-6.

Eighteen months later when Pearce was handed his first sky-blue jumper and the record of being the youngest to ever wear the NSW No.7, there was Thurston again, plotting his demise. 

With the Blues leading 10-8 at half-time in the 2008 series decider, Thurston engineered the match-winning play deep into the second stanza, going straight past Pearce with that trademark show and go before feeding Billy Slater an unobstructed run to the line.

 After nine losses and just three wins in the Origin arena, and another four defeats when the pair donned their respective club colours, Pearce only broke through for his first triumph over Thurston at NRL level last year when the Roosters downed the Cowboys 12-8 on their own turf.

Thurston leads all comers this year for try assists (32), line-break assists (28) and points scored (208), and ominously for the Tricolours has averaged just short of 15 points in each of his last five games against them.

Pearce is under no illusions of the challenge ahead of him as he faces off against the premier half in the game, but insists he bears no scars from their one-sided personal duels over the years.

"No doubt... If you can get over him it's a massive achievement," Pearce says. 

"He's a superstar and totally in control of their team. If he's on, they're on.

"Especially his kicking game in big games and his control at the right time is better than anyone, and is right up there with anyone who's played the game.

"I don't owe him anything, but he's a superstar player; one of the best I've ever played against. 

"They beat us in my debut pretty bad. I don't think that's got any bearing on this game, hopefully I've grown up since that game. It certainly won't be at the front of my mind going into the game.

"I'll be focused on my team and what I need to do, as he will be with his team."

Pearce has taken his own game to another level over the past six weeks, as the Roosters built some serious momentum before their shock loss to Penrith at the weekend.

The 19-18 upset was through no fault of the 25-year-old, who looked to have the game won with his 74th-minute try and a crunching try-saving tackle on Panthers winger Josh Mansour when he was try-line bound.

Pearce's clutch defensive play was his second in as many weeks after he roped in a runaway Greg Inglis over 70 metres against the Rabbitohs. With Thurston sure to direct human wrecking ball Jason Taumalolo Pearce's way hard and often come Friday night, the Roosters No.7 says his confidence naturally gets a boost from pulling off those big efforts in defence.

"As a half, every half will say the same; if you defend well you generally play well so that's normally my focus," Pearce says.

"I feel like I've always been a pretty good defender. It's not something that I go into the game consciously thinking about, but it's something that you've got to do; you've got to defend well. 

"We put a lot of pride into our defence. So I've got to pull my weight and I feel like I'm doing a good job of it."