Settled Pearce ready to fire, says Foran

For the first time in nine years they will play alongside each other on Friday night but NRL All Stars five-eighth Kieran Foran believes halves partner Mitchell Pearce is finally ready to become a dominant player in the game.

Friends since they serendipitously attended St Ives North Public School in Sydney's north shore upon the Foran family's arrival from New Zealand, Pearce and Foran have only lined up on opposition teams since Pearce graduated from Marist College North Shore in 2006.

Since that time they have played in the 2013 Grand Final against each other and maintained a fortnightly ritual of catching up for dinner to talk all things footy and life, and Foran told NRL.com he has seen a noticeable change in Pearce over the past 12 months.

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Although he refused to cite Pearce's omission from the New South Wales Origin team due to a late night incident in Kings Cross as the reason for the change, Foran conceded that his good friend had reached a critical stage in his life.

"I don't know what you put it down to. He probably got to a point where a few things had gone wrong for him and he probably just realised that he wasn't getting to where he wanted to get to," Foran said from within NRL All Stars camp.

"I know Mitchell, he's so competitive and he just wants to be the best player that he can become and maybe he just thought midway through last year was the time to become that player. To become that dominant half and that dominant player in the NRL and the way he finished the year last year, he was the form player of the competition.

"He's really found his feet, found himself as a person and just seems to have grown so much. He's got this great calmness and confidence about him now, the way he carries himself, more so off the field.

"The way he carries himself off the field is really great to see him with that calmness and confidence. Now he truly believes in the player that he has become and he's only going to get better as the years go on."

A Blues Origin rep for 11 straight games between 2010 and 2013, Pearce himself acknowledges the changes he has made off the field has helped him to become a more influential player on it.

He scored five tries in the Roosters' final seven games of the season last year and was integral in taking the club to a second consecutive minor premiership, charging home to finish on 18 Dally M points – just one point behind Foran.

"You're still young as a player sometimes so you go through a lot of ups and downs, especially at a young age," said Pearce, who has played 182 NRL games at just 25 years of age.

"Whether it's footy or everyday life everyone aims to be comfortable in their own skin and that's what life's about I suppose.

"I probably just worked out a lot more balance off the field, [became] more confident as a person, and I think that helps in your footy. Running the ball, too. I've been running the ball a lot more and making that my focus. That's my strength and that's what I'm going to try to play to a bit more.

"You can get caught up as a half worrying about everyone else and losing track of what your role is and what your focus area is. I've always been a good runner of the ball, especially when I was younger, but went away from it a bit. I did it at times but I'm a lot more consistent now but being comfortable in your own skin definitely helps your footy.

"Off the field if you're comfortable in your own skin and evolving then you're going to be playing better footy and helping other people around you."

For now, the pair are relishing the opportunity to spend the week together in camp and run out representing the NRL All Stars at Cbus Super Stadium on Friday night.

It's a far cry from the hours spent honing their skills in the park after school along with Kieran's older brother Liam and Kieran admits that being back together in a footy team has brought up some fond memories.

"It kind of takes me back to the memories of the days of finishing school and meeting each other up at the park three or four arvos a week to work on our games and work on particular skills," Foran said.

"We'd be out there for two or three hours together throwing the footy around and kicking the footy around, it's a bit surreal to now get the opportunity to run out on the big stage and play some footy together."

For Pearce, it's a rare opportunity to stand alongside a player he considers one of the most tenacious in the competition.

"We used to have fights all the time mucking around in the backyard and all that and he's one of the most competitive, toughest guys I've seen and I think everyone sees that every week," said Pearce.

"He's always been like that, it's a true strength of his.

"He's always been such a tough bloke, that's what everyone respects about him. Along with Thurston he's probably the best five-eighth in the game and it's great to see how good he's gone."

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