Mitchell Pearce faces double Thurston test - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Mitchell Pearce faces double Thurston test

Joe Barton 23/05/2011 05:01:31 PM Comments (0)

Sydney Roosters halfback Mitchell Pearce faces the toughest week of his NRL career as he prepares to knock off the world's best halfback - twice.

As if stopping Johnathan Thurston and the Queensland juggernaut from continuing their State of Origin dominance on Wednesday night at Suncorp Stadium wasn't enough, he'll have to back up and do it all over again at Dairy Farmers Stadium on Saturday.

The Roosters managed to snap a five-game losing streak against Newcastle without Pearce's leadership but they face an uphill battle to maintain that momentum against a North Queensland team that has won five of its last six matches.

And making matters worse is Thurston's ability to return from Queensland duties full of confidence.

"Johnathan Thurston has made a habit of coming back after Origin and putting in man-of-the-match performances," veteran prop Jason Ryles said on Monday.

"We're certainly not going to cancel his influence on the game out but we can hopefully limit it as much as we can.

"That will be our focus this week and hopefully we can do a good job on him.

"... It's still pretty daunting as far as (hooker, Aaron) Payne, Thurston and (fullback, Matt) Bowen there in the middle of the field. Especially for us big guys."

Ryles also said it was imperative that the Roosters build on their ground-breaking 12-10 win over the Knights and use it to kick-start their season.

Grand finalists last season, the Roosters have been one of the competition's biggest letdowns in 2011, and Ryles admits the club have struggled to deal with their own pre-season expectations.

"It's not as nice being where we are at the moment (compared to last year). I guess it's a bit of a shock after expecting a lot at the start of the season and sort of coming up with what we have been," he said.

"Hopefully we can turn that around now and we've got plenty of time in the season to get ourselves in the mix.

"After the Origin period, if you're around about the eight, you can make a run for it.

"That's our goal now and we just need to pick up as many games as we can while teams are down on players."

Ryles said the Roosters, who will regain NSW's Pearce and Queensland forward Nate Myles for the Cowboys clash, had an opportunity to make some ground over the Origin period.

"The guys that go to Origin are obviously your best players ... so it is a bit disruptive in that regard," he said.

"We're probably lucky that Toddy (Todd Carney) didn't actually make it this year ... and was able to play for us and fill in at halfback there."

Making life more difficult for the Roosters is the loss of young prop Lama Tasi for up to six weeks with a fractured ankle.

"That's certainly a blow to us, hopefully the boys get through Origin ok and we'll get them back and get everyone on deck again," Ryles said.

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