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Roosters won't buy into Pearce Blues calls

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 5/04/2017 Steve Zemek

Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson has refused to publicly endorse Mitchell Pearce for State of Origin as the maligned playmaker's hopes of a NSW recall continue to grow.

Roosters No.7 Pearce has started the year as one of the form halves of the NRL and on Thursday night faces another litmus test against Brisbane pair Ben Hunt and Anthony Milford.

Pearce is hoping to unseat Adam Reynolds, James Maloney and Matt Moylan after he was overlooked for last year's series loss due a ban for an off-field misdemeanour.

The 27-year-old has never won an Origin series in his six previous attempts during 2008, 2010-2013 and 2015 however Hunt this week declared he should be the first half picked by Blues coach Laurie Daley.

Robinson was happy to praise his playmaker but stopped short of throwing his name up for next month's Origin opener at Suncorp Stadium.

"Mitchell is our halfback the same as we're watching Ben and Anthony (Milford), that's what halves are for, they're there to guide and excite the attacking options in the game," Robinson said.

"We've got to make sure we nullify them and Mitchell's a big part of ours.

"I think he's playing really good footy."

When asked if he would comment on Hunt's claims about Pearce being the Blues' No.7 front-runner, Robinson laughed and said: "No, I'm not."

Robinson said he was proud of Pearce for the way he had rebounded from a very public downfall in 2015 and had struck up a strong combination with new five-eighth Luke Keary.

"Last year it was as public as any sportsman has been," Robinson said of Pearce's struggles which included an eight-match ban and $125,000 fine for a lewd video filmed after a drinking session.

"I thought he progressed the back end of last year and then came into this year with good form, he's on track and the cliches come out - as long as he's playing well this week and his life is in good order."

The Roosters face a test of their fortitude in Brisbane on Thursday night after last week suffering their first loss following a strong start to 2017.

Robinson confirmed prop Kane Evans would return from a calf problem and will be an almost direct replacement for Dylan Napa, who is out for up to four weeks with an ankle injury.

"He's ready to go there, and luckily he is given the niggles we've had there," Robinson said.

"We had Dylan do his ankle last week and it's pretty important we got Kane came back in.

"Kane was pushing last week, he couldn't get there and it's timely for us this week."

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