Pearce could be NRL's first 400-game man
This weekend Mitchell Pearce becomes the youngest player to reach 200 first-grade games. It begs the question: can the Roosters captain be the first player to reach the unprecedented 400-game mark?
Having missed just 15 games since his debut as a 17-year-old in 2007, with most of his absences being mandatory due to his 15 Origin appearances for New South Wales, Pearce could potentially be the first man to reach the elusive quadruple century mark.
Having taken more than eight seasons to achieve the double century, Pearce would still have to be playing at 35 and avoid serious injuries to reach 400 games – a difficult yet not impossible feat.
Just 155 games from overtaking Darren Lockyer as the most-capped player in rugby league history, Pearce most probably will have to bypass Corey Parker and Cameron Smith's 300-game careers by the time they retire to achieve one of the game's highest honours.
Even so, the record he'll achieve this weekend alone may never be broken considering players aren't allowed to make their NRL debut before their 18th birthday anymore.
"A few people have said that. But I'll probably get a little bit sorer over the next 200," Pearce laughed about the prospect of playing 400 NRL games.
"Nah, I love footy, it's a dream job and I'm at a great club so I don't see it as an effort to get up for games or trying to improve as a player. I find it enjoyable."
"It's going to be a proud night of mine. It's not something I've thought about too much going into the season. It wasn't like a goal or anything like that but I'm really proud of the achievement and I'm looking forward to have a big game for my teammates.
"I'm lucky I've been durable and haven't had too many injuries and I thank whatever's out there for that. And for me, it certainly takes a lot of professionalism and focus to keep ticking the games over, which is something I'm also thankful for."
Coming up against a desperate Bulldogs team and his NSW halves partner Trent Hodkinson for the first time since the Blues' horror Origin III defeat, Pearce said he doesn't plan on exposing 'Hokko' to his Roosters teammates due to their newfound friendship.
"That's the thing with the rep games; you get to know other players. But it probably works in the opposite sense though because you start to like the person," Pearce said.
"You have to respect them because they're good blokes and that. He's a great guy, Hokko, and I had a really enjoyable time with him in camp and I have a lot of respect for him as a player. He's very calm and he steers the Bulldogs around pretty well so I'm looking forward to it."
Pearce said he was able to get over the Origin hangover and lead the Roosters to their past three victories by simply focusing on club-land.
"Origin obviously didn't go to plan, it was a disappointing game," Pearce said of Queensland's 52-6 win in State of Origin III.
"I don't know where it came from, they were pretty red hot and it was an unusual Origin game.
"But that's life. Sometimes it's harder losing by one point or a try, they're never good and I'm not downplaying it one bit but it was a crazy night."