Pearce, Soward take baby steps for Blues - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Pearce, Soward take baby steps for Blues

By David Beniuk and Steve Jancetic 26/05/2011 07:17:31 PM Comments (0)

They might not have emerged from State of Origin I as the new Thurston and Lockyer, but NSW's Mitchell Pearce and Jamie Soward are convinced they have something to build on as a halves pairing.

The Blues' duo had few opportunities at Suncorp Stadium, as Queensland relentlessly hemmed the visitors in at their own end, with Maroons' five-eighth Darren Lockyer's kicking game providing a master class for any aspiring Origin half.

Pearce teamed with his third halves partner in four Origin games, but backed his former Sydney Roosters clubmate Soward, after two matches with Trent Barrett last year and one with Braith Anasta in 2008.

"He played well and he played tough as well," the 22-year-old Roosters No.7 said of Soward.

"He took a couple of tough carries out of our own half when we were down on troops there.

"He was really confident all week and I thought he did really well, especially for a guy in his first Origin."

Stuart, a former Origin halfback himself, had pinned his hopes on the 2010 grand final opponents, and surrounded them in camp with former halves including league great Andrew Johns.

The new coach is desperately hoping to build a spine capable of matching it with Queensland's Billy Slater, Darren Lockyer, Johnathan Thurston and Cameron Smith.

But with Stuart calculating his side defended around 15 more sets of six than their opponents, Soward said Wednesday night's game was not one in which the NSW pair could shine.

"When you don't have much ball, it's hard to be a five-eighth and be a half and create things when you're in your own end all night," the 26-year-old said.

"When you defend a lot, set after set after set, it's hard to have a run when they're fresh."

Soward has the longest kicking game in the NRL, but took time on Wednesday night to get into the game with his boot.

He conceded that was part of the plan for easing him into his first Origin game.

"Mitchell's obviously got a great kicking game as well, so we had to try and find a balance, and we knew that their kick pressure would be pretty tough," Soward said.

"He had the first couple of kicks and then I thought I got a few good kicks in.

"We didn't get down there too often, so it was a bit hard to try and build pressure that way."

Pearce said the signs were there for the inexperienced duo heading into Origin II on June 15, warning the Maroons they would be better for their Suncorp Stadium experience together.

"The problem was we made a lot of errors when we got some good ball down their end, but the times we got down there we looked really dangerous," Pearce said.

"But if you've been under the pump that long, you can't afford to give away simple handling errors."

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