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Big occasion to test Roosters duo

20/09/2010 07:39:27 PM Comments (0)

Dual international Mat Rogers agrees exciting Roosters halves Mitchell Pearce and Todd Carney are the quickest he's seen but says the youngsters still have to handle the pressure of Friday's NRL grand final qualifier against experienced Titans at Skilled Park.

There's no doubt 21-year-old Pearce, the son of former Balmain legend Wayne Pearce, and 24-year-old former bad boy Carney, who's clawed back from rugby league purgatory under coach Brian Smith, have formed a dynamic partnership behind a youthful and powerful Roosters pack.

But between them they boast just three representative games; Pearce's Origin debut for NSW in 2008 and Carney's two games for Country Origin.

This pales against their rivals; half Scott Prince with five Origins with Queensland and four Test appearances with the Kangaroos plus Rogers eight games for Queensland, 11 Tests for Australia and 45 games for Australia's rugby union team before returning to the NRL.

On the score of experience, Pearce and Carney seem hopelessly outclassed but their form in recent weeks has been simply breathtaking.

"They're two great players, they've just got so much skill the pair of them with the ball in their hand. They can pass, they can run, they can kick, they've got big futures ahead of them," said Rogers, the 34-year-old confident of overcoming a hip injury to play.

Rogers, who made his NRL debut with Cronulla when Pearce was only six, warned on Monday players could fall victim to the big occasion, especially with the rave reviews the pair had been receiving.

"There's been occasions in my career where I've looked back and knew I didn't go into a game with the right mindset.

"I think you can let the occasion get the better of you.

"You get better at handling those situations as you get older.

"That's not say Pearce and Carney aren't going to come out (Friday night) with all guns blazing and have the game of their lives."

Former Roosters hero and coach Brad Fittler commented recently he'd never seen a faster pair of halves.

Their recent performances against the Tigers and Panthers revived memories of how Brisbane's dynamic scrum duo Allan Langer and Kevin Walters used to cut defences to pieces in the 90s.

Rogers admitted he was left shaking his head after watching them combine against the Tigers thinking `man these guys are amazing'.

"I guess it's up to them to stand up this week."

Rogers said Carney wasn't the only big story in rugby league after finding his way back from a dark place to be crowned the game's best player.

He said the Titans had their own feel-good story in the re-born Greg Bird.

"He (Bird) has come back from the brink .... nobody wanted him and now he's here," said Rogers, hoping his illustrious career ends with a fairytale grand final victory next month.

"I just want to play well and write our own story," he said.

Rogers, who came close in 1999 and 2001, concedes this is his best shot at a premiership.

"There's a great vibe among the players, no hoopla, no carry on, we simply believe we're good enough.

"Talking to the boys I think it just comes from confidence in the bloke next to you.

"We believe in it and we'll get it done."

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