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Johns heralds dawn of the Pearce era

NSW great Andrew Johns says Mitchell Pearce is ready to take the position of rugby league's most dominant half in State of Origin II.

Johns heralds dawn of the Pearce era

NSW great Andrew Johns says Mitchell Pearce is ready to take the position of rugby league's most dominant half in State of Origin II.

Let the Mitchell Pearce era begin.

That's the opinion of NSW great Andrew Johns as the Blues No.7 stands on the brink of finally breaking through as a State of Origin series winner in game two on Wednesday night.


After 10 years of heartbreak, having the finger pointed at him for Queensland's reign of dominance and setbacks due to off-field misdemeanours, Pearce has a chance to finally put his hands on the Origin trophy.

In recent times Johns, Darren Lockyer, Johnathan Thurston and Cooper Cronk have enjoyed their standing as the game's dominant playmakers.

Johns says Pearce is ready to assume that mantle.

"I think it's Mitch's time for sure," Johns told AAP.

"I watch the way he plays at the Roosters, the way the game plan at NSW is built around him and James Maloney.

"It's his time and it's exciting for him."

While Thurston and Cronk's careers are winding down, Pearce appears to be coming into his own.

He has proven an NRL match-winner in the clutch in 2017, in particular his field goal during golden point in the Roosters' Anzac Day win over St George Illawarra.

Those around him say he knows how to win in the big moments and has evolved beyond the troubled young man who was overlooked for the 2014 Origin campaign following an incident at a Kings Cross nightclub.

He was likewise forced to watch from the sidelines last year after copping an eight-week ban for his Australia Day meltdown.

Pearce will on Wednesday surpass Johns for the most number of games in a NSW halves jumper when he runs out for his 17th Origin appearance.

Pearce has never won a series in his six previous attempts.

Johns, who mentors Pearce at the Sydney Roosters, said he'd been made a scapegoat during his career, having been thrown into the Origin cauldron too young as a 19-year-old in 2008.

"He got his opportunity too young - they threw him to the wolves," Johns said.

"He wasn't ready but he learnt some valuable lessons when he played Origin when he was young."

With Thurston to step down from representative football after this year's World Cup and Cronk's future uncertain, Pearce, 28, has a chance to stamp his authority as the game's most dominant playmaker.

The impending departures of Cronk and Thurston will leave a hole to fill in the Australian side and give Pearce an opportunity to earn a maiden national cap.

"Full credit to Mitchell, he's come a long way," Johns said.

STATE OF ORIGIN LEDGER

OVERALL SERIES WINS

* NSW - 13

* Queensland - 20

OVERALL MATCH WINS

* NSW - 48*

* Queensland - 58

ANZ STADIUM HEAD-TO-HEAD

NSW - 16

Queensland - 8

Drawn - 2

* Not including Long Beach exhibition match in 1987.

AAP


AAP



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