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Blues not convinced Pearce is the right man to replace Cleary

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Mitchell Pearce to save the day for NSW? Don’t bet on it.

With halfback Nathan Cleary expected to be ruled out of the deciding State of Origin match at ANZ Stadium on July 10 with a serious ankle injury, the push has started for Pearce to join James Maloney in the halves.

The push as already started for Mitchell Pearce to join James Maloney in the halves for Origin III.Credit:AAP

“If there’s one thing I’ve learned through this series, it’s that you can’t pick anyone until the last minute,” Fittler told the Herald in the buzzing dressing-room following his side’s 38-6 romp at Perth’s Optus Stadium. “It’s been madness for both games.”

Indeed, much can change between now and when the team is selected on Monday, July 1, after this weekend's round of matches. Pearce has one match to impress, against the Broncos, in Newcastle on Saturday.

Yet there’s already resistance from some on the Blues coaching staff about picking Pearce because he ruled himself out of games one and two, despite his synergy with Maloney.

The old firm played in the halves for the Roosters when they beat Manly in the 2013 grand final.

'Madness': Brad Fittler addresses the victorious NSW players after the match. Credit:NRL Photos

They remain good friends and texted each other in the build-up to game two — which Maloney only played in when Pearce ruled himself out with a groin and hip injury on the morning of selection.

Pearce had also ruled himself out of game one when Fittler came knocking on the Knights’ dressing-room door after his side’s big win over the Roosters........

© Brisbane Times