Pearce out to stop rampaging Tiger Ellis
August 7, 2009 - 2:12PM
Roosters halfback Mitchell Pearce is looking forward to the challenge of trying to stop the Tigers’ rampaging forward Gareth Ellis in Sunday’s NRL clash at the Sydney Football Stadium.
The British Test second-rower has been one of the pivotal figures in the resurgent Tigers’ four-match winning streak which has pushed them into finals contention.
While Pearce identified playmakers Benji Marshall and Robbie Farah as the major threats to his side, he was wary of the challenge Ellis posed to the Roosters and to him personally.
“That Gareth Ellis has been playing awesome and I think he will be running at me all day,” Pearce told reporters on Friday.
"He’s a big man and he’s got plenty of skill as well.
“I enjoy defending, it’s a good little challenge. If I can defend well it sort of sets the game up.”
“Their forward pack has been playing awesome. (Keith) Galloway is back for his second game and that’s going to give them more go forward, so they are certainly going to be tough.”
Pearce said the shock selection of regular fullback Anthony Minichello at five-eighth for the Roosters was “a bit of a surprise”, but he tipped the injury prone veteran to handle the unfamiliar role with aplomb.
“He’s a classy player and you look at most of the five-eighths in the game at the moment, and most of them are ball runners anyway,” Pearce said.
The Roosters are locked in a grim battle with the Sharks for the wooden spoon.
Pearce was hoping the Roosters could build on the form they showed in their upset win over Newcastle last week.
While the Roosters have struggled throughout the season, Pearce believed the side’s attitude had improved appreciably in recent weeks.
“I think the attitude has been pretty good since our first bye two months ago. Before that I don’t think it was acceptable, we weren’t playing very well at all,” Pearce said.
He felt a strong end to the season would provide departing coach Brad Fittler with some consolation.
“I think it’s disappointing how it’s all sort of panned out, I’m sure he’s still pretty rattled by it all,” Pearce said of Fittler.
“I’m sure a good end to the season isn’t going to take away all his disappointment, but it’s certainly going to take him away with a bit of pride.”
The 20-year-old halfback was enjoying the extra responsibility of leading his side around the park in the absence of injured captain and five-eighth Braith Anasta.
“I’ve learnt more this year than I have last year. When we were winning all the time you just jump on the bandwagon and everything is really positive,” Pearce said.
“This year it’s been tough in a lot of ways, off the field and on the field and heaps of things have been going on.”