Pearce to benefit from coaching stint
Roosters halfback Mitchell Pearce came through this week's training sessions even better than expected and when he runs out against the Broncos on Friday night he will be boosted by a new perspective gained from a month in the coach's box.
Pearce trained so strongly on Monday that there were no concerns by the time of the squad's main session on Tuesday, with the halfback in particular showing no discomfort from his recent hamstring strain when kicking.
While it may take him a little bit to regain his combinations on the field, his fitness is such that he shouldn't skip a beat in that sense but he will also benefit from having continued his education as a halfback with a bird's eye view in recent weeks, according to coach Trent Robinson.
"The good thing is he's been sitting in the coach's box for the last month observing the game from a bird's eye view and I think his clarity about how the game should be played and how he wants to play going back into it is much better," Robinson said.
"He's been talking to me about what he's been seeing and how he wants to play and it's right, so I'm happy to leave him be and get back into his normal role with the added knowledge he's got over the last month."
That type of experience from the coaching box doesn't always help players but Pearce lapped it up.
"Sometimes it doesn't help, sometimes [they say] 'I don't want to come up there again'. Mitchell, he kept wanting to come back up and watch the game from that view and listen to what we were saying and he was the one that came to me and said 'I enjoyed it, I learned a lot'," Robinson said.
"He was adding stuff in the box as well, adding his insight so he was seeing it. And that's what a halfback has to do, they have to play the play and lead the other players around but they've got to have a bird's eye view whilst on the field. We couldn't get him game time [while he was injured] but his education didn't stop during that time so hopefully that will serve him well."
As good as stand in Jackson Hastings has gone while Pearce was out, the team is stronger and better rounded with the co-captain back in it.
"Having Junior back in and also Jacko on the bench with the way that he's played – we've got to make sure we prove that but I feel we're a better rounded team and a fuller bench as well," Robinson said.
"[He brings] leadership, he's our main talker that's what he does, he's given us direction for years. Jackson's done that very well and made an effort to make sure he took over from Junior in that sense and a credit to Jacko in the way he went about it but Junior's our main talker and natural talker.
"He allows the boys to play their natural game by the way he directs the team around. Jimmy [Maloney] stood up a little bit more which we need him to do, but it allows him to play his instinctive footy a little bit more with Junior back," Robinson added.
The coach praised Pearce's fitness as an asset that would help him re-adapt in quick time.
"He's one of the fittest guys I've seen in rugby league so I'm not worried about that. Just getting his combos, guys around him as well and getting his touch, that's probably the main thing," Robinson said.
"We've tried to get that in the last couple of days with a lot of opposed [training] but I guess that's a question we'll have to answer and he'll have to answer on Friday."