Mitchell Pearce backed for Origin redemption
Mitchell Pearce should not be made the scapegoat if New South Wales Blues fail to overcome Queensland Maroons in Wednesday's State of Origin decider, according to former coach Ricky Stuart.
Pearce's recall has been cast as a shot at redemption for the halfback, who was on the receiving end seven times as Queensland won eight consecutive shields between 2006 and 2013.
But Stuart insists the Maroons' supreme strength at the time should not be underplayed and backed the 30-year-old Newcastle Knights captain to come up with the goods at ANZ Stadium.
"We don't have to worry about Mitch winning the game for us but he'll have a big hand in it if we do win the game," Stuart told NRL 360.
"I feel sorry for Mitch, he's copped a lot of criticism over the years. Basically, he's the one that has had to carry the load of us losing a lot of Origin games against, well, you'll never ever see a greater Origin era or period or team than the one he had to play against.
"There were a number of series there we were winning but then [didn't] and Mitch has to carry the burden of that.
"But he's copped it, he's quite a resilient kid and toughed it out and got his opportunity again and is playing against a completely different Queensland team on Wednesday."
Queensland won the 2019 Origin opener 18-14 in Brisbane a month ago before the Blues stormed back with an emphatic 38-6 triumph in Perth.
Scrum-half Nathan Cleary dazzled with a pair of first-half tries in the latter game before sustaining the ankle injury that led to Pearce's recall.