Hodkinson's calmness rubs off on Pearce
The two most talked-about selections of the 2015 Origin series are chalk and cheese in many ways but Blues five-eighth Mitchell Pearce says the calm demeanour of under-fire halves partner Trent Hodkinson will help him play his best in next Wednesday's crucial Origin II at the MCG.
By his own admission, Hodkinson's form has been "below par" in 2015 but after a mostly solid series opener punctuated by a lack of involvement in the crucial closing stages, coach Laurie Daley immediately guaranteed both halves would return for the second tie.
Pearce said Hodkinson's calmness had benefited him over the Origin I camp and welcomed the chance to continue to build on their relationship both on and off the field.
"That's the biggest thing I noticed with him from the start is how calm and clear he is," Pearce said.
"He doesn't try and be a player he's not or try and play outside of his square. That's why he's an Origin halfback, that's why the boys love him and trust him in the team.
"He plays to his strengths and knows his game. It's a real quality of his so I don't think that will affect him too much and that's why I enjoy playing with him."
The halves partnership will benefit from having played a full game together and getting another Origin camp to develop, and Pearce said the structure coach Laurie Daley had put in place combined with Hodkinson's style had made his own shift from halfback to five-eighth seamless.
The pair combined in style for one brilliantly executed early try in Game One where a well-timed Hodkinson pass found Pearce at a tricky angled run coming across the Maroons goalposts. The Roosters playmaker held up a beautiful ball for back-rower Beau Scott to score.
The pair got precious few chances to repeat the dose in a second half with the Blues constantly pinned inside their own territory.
"I thought we took some good opportunities in the first half [of Game One]," Pearce said.
"We would have liked to get a few more opportunities. We've addressed what we need to do to allow ourselves to get in that position more in Game Two and I think me Trent and Duges [fullback Josh Dugan] will link up well if we can get our game on."
Pearce said the team's first two ballwork sessions of the second camp, on Wednesday and Thursday mornings, had been the two best of the series to date.
"Obviously the first camp was all about learning the plays; it takes you a few days to get your combinations and we've come back in here and everyone knows what's expected knows what we need to work on and we've hit the ground running so it's been exciting so far," he said.
Of his own adaptation to five-eighth, a position he has never played in senior football, he noted there was "obviously a little bit of variation" but not as much as a full-time move at NRL level would entail.
"In a short camp like this when you only have a few sessions to gel it's probably not as different a role as what a club five-eighth would be," he said.
"It depends on the style you play but with me and Trent here where sort of playing our edges in yardage then linking up when we can. I haven't had to change too much but there's definitely a slight difference."
This article first appeared on NRL.com