Pearce backs Bulldogs opposite Mbye
MITCHELL Pearce knows exactly the type of pressure Moses Mbye is feeling heading into Thursday night's clash between the Roosters and the Bulldogs.
For years Pearce has been one of the game's most scrutinised and criticised playmakers, now it's Mbye under the pump.
Talked up by Johnathan Thurston as a future State of Origin player for Queensland, plenty of experts outside the Bulldogs are starting to question if Mbye would be better suited playing dummy half.
After dropping their opening game on a wet night at Belmore to Melbourne, the Bulldogs are $2.70 outsiders while the Roosters are the TAB's shortest priced team of the round at $1.45.
The heat is on Mbye to find a way to spark the Bulldogs' attack.
Pearce admits he is like the rest of us, wondering what the Bulldogs are going to do differently this year.
But two things he said he won't be underestimating is Canterbury's proud history, and the talent of his 23-year-old opponent.
"He has a really nice left-foot kicking game and good instinct," Pearce said of Mbye.
"And anyone playing in a Bulldogs team and behind that big pack is going to be dangerous.
"I think everyone was expecting to see how they were going to change their style of play.
"The Bulldogs are a great team. They are a team that is always up there at the end of the year.
"And coming off a loss they will be hungry this week."
At 27, Pearce admits he has never been hungrier, or in a better state of mind.
After debuting in 2007, Pearce's career has had more than its share of highs and lows. But with last year's disappointment behind him, he feels he is ready to enjoy the best years of his career.
"I am as motivated as I have ever been," Pearce said. "As a half it is a really exciting time, 27 to 30, 31.
"You go through a lot of ups and downs and learning curves. But this is the time when you are at your clearest.
"I am in a good routine. We have a great set-up at the club. Everyone is motivated at the moment.
"That gives you the best avenue to play your best footy."
In his first game of the season against Gold Coast, Pearce showed instantly why he will be back in State of Origin contention this year.
With the halfback pulling the strings to the NRL's biggest backline, the Roosters piled on 28 first-half points.
And better still, Pearce's partnership with new five-eighth Luke Keary clicked instantly.
"Sometimes with different halves you complement each other," Pearce said about Keary. "I thought we trained really well over the pre-season and I was confident we could play well together. There is a lot more football to go and a lot of pressure that is going to be mounted on us.
"But I love playing with him. He has great speed, great instinct and is just what our team needed. I am an on-the-ball half that creates space for other players. Why Luke suits our mould is that he is a running five-eighth.
"I think those two types of players in the halves combine well together. If you have got a ballplayer and a runner, it is the best combination you can have."