Well, MP7 told the Sydney Morning Herald that he could “learn a thing or two” from his main rival for the NSW halfback slot, Adam Reynolds.
And he’s right: Reynolds has the superior short kicking game.
Phil Gould also said in the Herald this morning that:
Mitchell Pearce… played his best game of the season [against the Eels]. Why? He did less. Pearce concentrated on giving the team good direction and then delivering the ball to where it needed to go. He still needs to work on his attacking kicks, particularly his ability to force line drop-outs from close range. However, from a distribution aspect, I thought it was one of his best. NSW coach Laurie Daley was seen wiping his brow and mouthing the word “Phew!”
It’s a concern but one that might have taken a bit of a back seat, especially as he now has a sidekick with a very solid short kicking game near the line in the BBQ.
However, it’s good that he has acknowledged that its an area of his game that needs work.
His bomb is the deadliest in the game at the moment and poor Vai Toutai is still having nightmares about it. His direction in leading a team around the park is among th best in the game on his day, and he’s regularly in the top five in try assists — of which he had three in the last game against the Parramatta Eels.
He runs the ball more than his Bunnies counterpart andis a threat to break the line every time he does.
But the short kicking game is the one real area of weakness that has a player like Reynolds breathing down his neck.
Reynolds, while he doesn’t run the ball at the line, creates enough space with some fancy footwork in limited space to create enough time for him to put in the perfect kick. It’s allowing the Bunnies to continually apply pressure which was key against the Bulldogs last week.
While the Roosters were also able to apply pressure, it was through repeated mistakes off high kicks from the Eels which caused that pressure to build, rather than a deft grubber behind the line.
The Roosters have the forward pack and the attacking nous to be able to apply repeated pressure, but it starts with getting the drop out — which they rarely, if ever, get.
And while the BBQ put a great grubber in that was batted back by MP7 for the Roosters’ second try last week, these kicks are always attacking kicks rather than kicks aimed at forcing another set.
It starts with MP7. He needs to take the game by the neck and allow players like JWH and SBW to tire the defence through repeat sets.
From The Herald:
Sydney Roosters halfback Mitchell Pearce conceded that not only was his reign as the NSW Blues’ No.7 under threat from South Sydney’s Adam Reynolds but he also envied aspects of his rival’s game.
Pearce hit peak form against a hapless – and helpless – Parramatta outfit as the Roosters recorded a 50-0 Easter Monday victory. However, he acknowledged Reynolds’ efforts were impressing the state selectors.
”He’s a great player – I’ve got a lot of respect for Adam Reynolds,” Pearce said on Tuesday. ”I really admire his short-kicking game … it’s an area I let myself down [in] the first couple of rounds. I was happy with it last night but I think his short-kicking game and his composure is up there [with], and as good as, any half in the comp.
”I love watching Adam play and, to be honest, I think I can learn a bit from his short-kicking game. I think he’s setting the benchmark there. For me, though, I worked on a few things and started to get a bit of form back. My main focus for [the Roosters] is to keep building each week and going as well as I can.”