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Faith in halves crucial to Blues: Pearce

By David Beniuk 08/06/2011 07:20:28 PM Comments (0)

NSW halfback Mitchell Pearce says the faith shown in his partnership with Jamie Soward will be crucial to the Blues' desperate challenge for the State of Origin crown.

Pearce and Soward will have the rare opportunity to play consecutive Origin games as a Blues halves pairing when they line up against Queensland at ANZ Stadium next Wednesday night.

NSW's chopping and changing, particularly in the halves, is widely considered a major factor in their five straight series defeats to the Maroons.

In the six series since the Blues lost the Origin title in 2006, they have played the same half and five-eighth in consecutive games just four times.

Braith Anasta and Brett Finch teamed up in the first two games of `06, Greg Bird and Peter Wallace did the same in 2008, while Trent Barrett and Pearce combined for the final two games last year.

Barring a major mishap, Pearce will get that opportunity with Soward next week.

Should the pair play together again in game three, they will become the first NSW scrumbase duo since Andrew Johns and Shaun Timmins in 2003 to play all three games together.

The Blues' revolving door contrasts with Maroons pairing Darren Lockyer and Johnathan Thurston having been together for 14 of the 17 games, including next Wednesday's, from 2006-11.

Pearce was plucked by NSW coach Ricky Stuart from a Sydney Roosters side performing poorly in 2011 in much the same way Queensland have stuck by Thurston despite woeful recent seasons from his North Queensland club.

"It gives you a lot of faith when the coach picks the side that he wants," Pearce told AAP on Wednesday.

"It's good for your confidence, it certainly helps your performance on the field when everyone feels they belong, when the coach wants you here."

Pearce said his two games with Barrett last year had allowed that pair to get better, while Queensland had shown the way in how to build a combination.

"It definitely helps with any player, I'm sure with the front-rowers and the hookers and everyone, once you play consecutively you can build on things which is only natural," Pearce said.

"The biggest thing with Queensland is probably they're all on the same page ... and that's the way you've got to play in any team that's winning."

The Roosters No.7 might have been expecting to play alongside clubmate and Dally M medallist Todd Carney, who was a part of the core group of potential Blues stars Stuart got together to plan the campaign in January.

But it's his partnership with Soward that Stuart is hoping will become along-term proposition.

"Into the future probably doesn't mean much if you're not playing well but I think it's a good motivation to play well," Pearce said.

"Hopefully we win the series, that's the plan, and I'm sure they'll probably keep the same team.

"It's just a matter of me and Sowie doing the best job we can for this game and I suppose the rest will take care of itself."

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