Pearce relieved at Jennings Origin call
NSW five-eighth Mitchell Pearce says he is relieved clubmate Michael Jennings will be available for the Blues in the Origin decider, despite the strike centre being stood down for one game by the Roosters for a late-night incident in Parramatta three nights before the game.
When news emerged Jennings had been involved in an incident, there were immediate calls from some quarters that Jennings must be stood down from the Origin decider, given the precedent set by Blues coach Laurie Daley in dumping Pearce shortly before Game I last year for an off-field incident.
However Daley, in confirming the Origin II Man of the Match would be available for selection for Origin III, labelled any suggestions of double standards "rubbish", pointing out that the incidents were completely separate and that each needed to be treated on their own merits.
"I am disappointed in the fact that he was out at that time when he should have been preparing for a game of football," Daley said of the Jennings incident.
"I have spoken with him. He wasn't kicked out of any nightclubs or restaurants and he intends to defend the charges vigorously."
If Jennings had pleaded guilty he would not have been available but he is entitled to the presumption of innocence, Daley added.
The NSW coach has since spoken to both Jennings and Pearce about the decision, and Pearce said he fully supported Daley's stance and would not have wanted to see Jennings miss an Origin over the incident.
"I'm right behind Loz there, I thought one week with Jenko was more than enough," Pearce said after the Roosters notched a hard-fought 19-14 win over the Dragons on Monday night minus Jennings, who had been stood down by the club for one game as a result of the incident.
"As it's come out he hasn't done much wrong, he made a misjudgement drinking alcohol but as far as the bigger picture I can't wait to play with him next week then hopefully he has another massive star performance for Origin because I'm more than sure he deserves to be there."
Pearce said the club's senior playing group had expressed their disappointment to the 27-year-old while also offering support, adding he had paid his dues for the mistake.
"He knew he did the wrong thing. We're in a good culture here where if you stuff up you sort of expect to get dropped and I thought he did his time this week," Pearce said.
"He got embarrassed publicly. We really felt for him and supported him. He's made a mistake. We've all made mistakes, he'd be focused ready to go from [Tuesday] training for the next couple of weeks which is a big couple of weeks for him."
Pearce said he had spoken to Jennings briefly, mostly to make sure his good mate was ok after a tough few days.
"We're really [glad] to get him back next week and I'm glad the Origin stuff's worked out for him because he deserves to be there," Pearce said.
Roosters coach Trent Robinson said Jennings would definitely play Round 16 against the Titans at Gosford, adding he was happy with how his side handled the disruption ahead of the Dragons game.
"I think the players knew before Michael even knew what the result was going to be so there wasn't a lot of think-time about what was going to happen," Robinson said.
"He knew what was going to happen and the players knew. They discussed it with him, talked with him on the Sunday morning then we went out there and trained well and got prepared.
"The boys said their piece and Michael said his and we moved on. It's a distraction when it comes to a club but the players are pretty resilient and they moved on quickly and they did two things. They kicked him up the bum and they also supported him about getting him back on track. That's what teammates do."