NSW star Michael Jennings is adamant his Sydney Roosters teammate Mitchell Pearce will return stronger from his Blues axing.
Jennings has retained his spot in the Blues line-up for State of Origin I next Wednesday, but Pearce was dumped following his wild night out at Kings Cross, with Canterbury’s Trent Hodkinson preferred at halfback by NSW coach Laurie Daley.
Jennings says he feels for Pearce but knows he can use the setback as motivation.
“I’m confident in Mitchell, he knows what he has done wrong, he has taken to heart our loss on the weekend, and I am sure he will come back even better and get the job done for us,” Jennings told AAP.
“He is a natural athlete, he will learn from this, he will bounce back from this, he is a great player.
“He is hurting and he knows what he has to do from here. I feel for them (Pearce and James Maloney), they are my teammates.”
The Roosters were hammered 42-10 by North Queensland last start as Pearce sat out a one-game suspension, leaving the tricolours out of the eight after an indifferent 5-5 start to the season.
The premiers face Canterbury on Friday night at ANZ Stadium, with the Bulldogs in the position many assumed the Roosters would be over the Origin period – without their halves Hodkinson and his Blues partner Josh Reynolds, who took Maloney’s Blues No.6 jersey.
The Dogs will also be missing NSW stars Josh Morris and Tony Williams, while giant Roosters winger Daniel Tupou has been chosen to make his NSW debut and back-rower Aidan Guerra has been selected for Queensland for the first time.
“I definitely feel for those two (Pearce and Maloney),” Tupou said.
“It is tough for them at the moment but all of that can change very quickly.”