Pearce and Gallen move past criticism
Copping criticism from both sides of the Tweed after a loss seems to be part and parcel of representing the NSW Blues these days but the side's two most experienced campaigners say they have learned to move past the knocks to do what is best for their state.
Heading into his 14th Origin, Pearce's role as Blues halfback has without doubt been the most heavily scrutinised position in those games but after a solid Game One performance wearing the No.6 for the first time, which included laying on a try and some fantastic long kicks in the team's dominant first half, it is instead his halves partner – but again the Blues No.7 in Trent Hodkinson – wearing the scrutiny.
Adding to the pressure, Hodkinson was substituted late by Bulldogs coach Des Hasler with a Round 13 clash against the Dragons in the balance, with dumped Blues pivot Josh Reynolds entering the fray and dragging Hasler's side over the line.
Pearce said the always calm Hodkinson seems to have taken it all in his stride and had no doubt the Bulldogs half would rise to the occasion at the MCG on Wednesday night.
"He seems fine. Obviously he would have taken it to heart a little bit. I always say criticism, sometimes it's warranted, sometimes it's unfair but you're playing these high pressure games, people are going to have an opinion," Pearce said.
"I think Trent understands that. He knows he has to have a big one next week. I'm on the same page as him. We need to have a big one for the team and me and him are ready to roll."
Pearce said his time at the top has taught him that intense scrutiny was part and parcel of the Origin arena.
"When you win you get all the raps in the world, when you lose it goes the other way. It just makes us want to win even more next week," he said.
"It's just a matter of believing in yourself; if you believe in what you can do it's not going to affect you. Like I said before it's part and parcel. If you lose a game of footy that's high pressure there's going to be questions. That's just what it is. As a team we all stick together."
Pearce's Blues and Roosters teammate Boyd Cordner also praised the playmaker for his Game One efforts under intense scrutiny.
"Mitchell's been here before... He knows how to handle the pressure and what's going to come at him," Cordner said. "He's all class, Pearcey, I've been playing with him for a while now and love him to death, he's definitely a classy player and classy bloke.
"I thought he played really well, especially with the amount of pressure he was under from the media and the public and everyone, all eyes were on him but that's the sort of bloke he is, he doesn't let it get to him too much and I'm proud of him for it."
For his part, Gallen said he no longer cared what people outside the team environment say.
"I just don't pay attention to it any more, I don't really care, it is disappointing but everyone is entitled to their opinion," Gallen said of the constant barbs from various sections of the media and former players as well as fans.
"That's the way it is. I'm used to it by now, there was a time when it would have affected me but now it doesn't affect me one bit.
"I know exactly who I am and who my teammates are here and I don't have to impress the people that are bagging me; I have to impress Laurie Daley and the selectors. That is what I have done, that is why I am here.
"It is never nice people not saying nice things about you, but that is the position I am in, that's the way I play the game, it is part of being a profile athlete you just have to put up with that type of thing there is not a lot I can do about it.
"I don't care. I really, really don't care."
What he does care about is squaring the series against the Maroons at the MCG on Wednesday.