Mayes back Mitch

SYDNEY Roosters halfback Mitchell Pearce has to be the one to stand up and take the pressure off State of Origin debutant Jamie Soward in game one of the 2011 series at Suncorp Stadium tomorrow night.

That's according to former halfback and grand final-winning Roosters legend John Mayes, who believes Pearce is the right choice to guide NSW to their first Origin series victory since 2005.

Mayes now lives in Evans Head and has enjoyed watching Pearce progress as a player in recent years.

“Pearce is tough for a young bloke and his kicking game and ability to take the line on is getting better,” Mayes said.

“He (Pearce) has gone under the radar a bit and most of the attention has been on (Jamie) Soward this year.

“The challenge is there for Mitchell to take his game to the next level and stop this dominant Queensland team.”

Mayes said it is no surprise that Pearce will take the field tomorrow night despite a niggling hamstring injury.

“He is tough and a very dedicated young player,” he said.

“Queensland has the big name players in (Darren) Lockyer and (Johnathan) Thurston, so I'm sure it's probably going to be a bit daunting for Pearce and Soward.” The only time the young pairing has played together in the past was for the Roosters' feeder club Newtown in 2007.

They both scored tries in a 32-all draw against the Dragons on the day.

Mayes is happy for Pearce to wear the No7 jersey despite the Roosters' poor start to the season in 2011.

“I think there is always going to be controversy no matter who they pick,” Mayes said.

“Ricky Stuart has selected this team for a reason and I think he would have done his homework.

“Origin is a different game altogether and you can't go past what blokes like Pearce have done in recent years.”

Blues football manager Trent Barrett gave Pearce his blessing when he visited Ballina last month to help launch the 2011 NRRRL season..

“We have good depth in our halves this year with the likes of Mitchell Pearce ... and Jarrod Mullen,” Barrett said.

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