Mitchell Pearce believes he has earned his Blues' re-call and says he won't be chasing redemption or be haunted by past Origin demons after being parachuted into the NSW team for next week's series decider in Sydney following halfback Nathan Cleary's withdrawal through injury .
Originally over-looked for Origin III against Queensland after being unavailable for the opening two games due to injury, the Knights captain was at club training on Wednesday when he got word Cleary was out and he was in.
"I was just finishing up a weights' session and Browny [Knights coach Nathan Brown] came in and said Freddy had called. So I called him back and he just said 'was I ready to go'," Pearce told the Newcastle Herald.
"He told me Nathan was no good and asked was I keen to play and I told him I was pumped. Let's do this. I'm really excited, really looking forward to it to be honest.
"My body wasn't right for the first two games and I've got to say I wondered if that would cost me for this one. But there was never any question of me not wanting to play Origin again. I just needed to be physically right and I will be for game three. Like I said, I'm pumped."
Pearce drove himself to Sydney on Wednesday afternoon to meet up with the squad.
"I'm just going in to enjoy it. I've got a lot of mates in the team,"he said.
"Klem [David Klemmer] and big Dan [Saifiti] from Newy and obviously a few of the Roosters boys I'm still close to. Jimmy Maloney's a mate who I've played plenty of footy with and even just playing alongside him again in the halves I'm excited about. I can't wait."
Pearce, who has played in 18 Origin games for just five wins since debuting as a 19-year-old in 2008, hasn't played since 2017 and is aware his return to the Blues for a series decider is going to create plenty of comment. But redemption and fairytales won't be his motivation.
"There's going to be plenty made of me coming back in. It will be hyped up but I can honestly say I feel really relaxed about it," he said.
"I know my record at that level is poor and I'll probably get reminded of it right up until game time but that stuff doesn't bother me anymore. I'm older and I'd like to think a fair bit wiser and I'm just going in there to do my best for the team and all the boys.
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"Like I said, I'm not focused on what's happened in the past and a lot of that's to do with how I have been playing.
"I feel like I've created some really good footy with the Knights over the past eight weeks after a slow start to the season and I'm proud of myself for that and I'm proud of the team for the way things are going.
"Sometimes you are playing in good teams and you get picked because you have been there before. I just feel like I have really earned it this time because of my form and not because of any other reason and that's a good feeling. It's why I will go in with a lot of confidence. That and the fact we've just got a really good side who I'll feel privileged to play alongside."
Pearce said the first person he rang after he was told of the call-up was his father Wayne.
"Yeah, he was pumped for me. There's going to be a huge crowd and I've got plenty of family that I want to make happy and proud and that's what makes me happy these days," he said.
"I'm 30 but I'm as competitive as ever and feel as if I'm playing as good as I ever have. Whatever happens, I'll be ripping in and giving it absolutely everything."
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