Mitchell Pearce and Daly Cherry-Evans have experienced nearly everything in their careers.
Winning premierships, representing their states and being the main man at their respective clubs.
They have also experienced huge criticism for their performances in the rep arena, especially at Origin level. They have also had a number of off-field issues throughout their NRL careers.
Having said that, they are two of the most highly-regarded halfbacks in the NRL.
2018 was a tough season for both number 7s for different reasons. Pearce moved to the Knights and struggled with injury though, when he was on the field, he excelled and is a big reason many are thinking the Knights might be able to rise into the eight next year.
DCE, meanwhile, made his return to the Origin arena and his performances seemed to suggest he may be ready to take that Queensland number 7 jersey.
This did not match his club season where Manly struggled badly and Cherry-Evans seemed to not be on the field in certain games.
For the year, Pearce’s stats were outstanding. He was able to conjure up 13 try assists and six line break assists.
Compare this with Cherry-Evans, who played in 24 games for Manly and was able to produce 15 try assists and 17 line break assists.
It is hard to gauge when comparing these two halfbacks because Pearce played nine fewer games.
The kicking game of both men are keys to their respective teams and allows their team to make ground, create tries and maintain pressure.
For the year, Pearce was able to manage a massive 401 kicking metres a game compared to 251 metres for DCE.
Pearce was also able to force nine line drop outs compared to DCE’s 12.
To me, this suggests Pearce has a much stronger kicking game. However, Pearce copped heavy criticism for a lack of kicking creativity in the Origin matches he played. He seemed to forever prefer a high bomb from 40 odd metres out that was always caught by a member of the Maroons back three.
Perhaps the greatest strengths of these two is their running game.
Both are able to take on the line with their speed and footwork. In 2018, Pearce was able to make four line breaks and average 58 metres a game, while DCE had six line breaks and averaged 64 metres a game.
These stats seem to cancel each other out and shows that they are both elite ball runners for their position.
Defence has always been a strength of Mitchell Pearce. His Roosters sides led the league in defence a number of times throughout his career.
In his first season at the Knights, he was able to manage an impressive 82 per cent tackle efficiency and, with his time at the Roosters, he developed an ability to read the other team’s structures and plays.
Pearce is a very good defender for his position and ensures that he is not a target.
Cherry-Evans, for all the points Manly conceded, was able to average a fantastic 83 per cent tackle efficiency – placing him in very elite company.
There were games during the year where DCE made some very average reads in defence and it is hard to miss a tackle when you so badly misread the attack.
I am giving Pearce a very slight edge in the defence department.
So who would you rather? It is a very hard choice, both have reached great heights and shown themselves to be fantastic halfbacks – arguably in the top three.
Other times in their respective careers they faced heavy and sometimes unjustified criticism for the level of play their ability to turn up in the big games.
Pearce, in particular, has been hammered for his Origin performances and to a lesser extent his play in the Roosters finals games, which lead to the recruitment of Cooper Cronk.
DCE, on the other hand, copped plenty of fire after the 2014 Origin series where he failed to replace Cronk and the Blues were able to win their first series since 2005.
Cherry-Evans also had his performances for Manly questioned this year, with people saying he did not seem to care at times.
Was this just a sign of a man frustrated with a struggling team or perhaps more troubling a man knowing that his contract allows him a very high level of security now and going forward?
So, who would you rather have in your side?