He has finally conquered the mountain at Origin level for NSW. Now Mitchell Pearce is ready to chase a fairytale ending to the season for the Newcastle Knights.
Less than 24 hours after playing his part for the Blues in their series-deciding Origin win over Queensland, Pearce told the Newcastle Herald all his energy is now focused on leading the Knights into the finals for the first time since 2013.
"We've put ourselves in a pretty good position to make a run at the play-offs so it's up to us to take advantage," the Knights captain said. "The ball's in our court as far as deciding how far we want to take our season."
Like he has done many times in the past over a 10 year period while at the Sydney Roosters, Pearce is certain to back up after Origin and lead his side against the Bulldogs tonight at McDonald Jones Stadium and is hopeful the Knights other three Origin reps, David Klemmer, Tim Glasby and Daniel Saifiti, will also play.
"I'm pretty sore but you pride yourself on backing up for your club if you can and I'll be sweet and hopefully, the other boys will be the same," Pearce said.
"It's a big game for us and we need to be right up for the Dogs or they will pull our pants down so hopefully, it will be all hands on deck.
"There is no doubt the Origin period is distracting for everyone but now that's out of the way and that box is ticked off, it's about being fully invested in the back end of the year for the Knights and try and create something special. I've got no doubts we've got the team to do it.
"It will all be about our attitude to defence and I thought the boys last week [against the Warriors], some of the efforts there were outstanding so we have to hold onto that and really focus on the right outcomes. I want us to be tough and physical and enthusiastic. The good stuff will come off the back of that."
Pearce admitted he was still on a high after the euphoria of Wednesday night's Origin win, just his sixth in 19 games for the Blues and his first series win.
But he claimed that while he had plenty of media focus during the build-up, the game was never about him.
"It was about the team and getting the win and winning the series," he said.
"In my eyes, it was never a case of me chasing redemption. What's happened in the past has happened and you can't change it. It is what it is.
"I'm very proud of the fact I've been trusted enough to play 19 games for NSW and I'm grateful I got the opportunity to play in a decider and play my part in a win for the boys. At the end of the day whether I delivered or not, it was only ever going to be about the win and I'm proud I got the chance to hold the trophy.
"It's a great feeling and like I said, I'm just grateful I was given the chance to be a part of it. The feeling among all the boys was pretty special.
"It has usually been the Maroons doing that to us in the past, scoring at the death, so it was great to be on the right side of the ledger. Historically, Queensland have done that a whole lot better than us."
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While he was solid without being brilliant, Pearce said he was happy with his own performance.
"It wasn't about re-inventing the wheel. I was just all about competing hard, defending well and making sure I was there in support and I felt like I did that," he said.
His biggest moment of the game came when it mattered most for the Blues. With the scores locked at 20-all in the dying seconds after two late Maroons tries tied up the game, threatening to send the decider into golden point, Pearce chanced his arm with a looping, over head pass to centre Tom Trbojevic which resulted in fullback James Tedesco scoring the matchwinner.
"You just trust your instincts and that's where the space and the opportunity was so you don't hesitate," Pearce said of his pass.
"For the team to come up with a calm moment like that under pressure to ice the game was pretty satisfying for everyone ."