With the bottom four now out of the way, The Roar’s NRL preview series moves onto those teams who will be in contention for the top eight, but are forecast to miss out.
Mitchell Pearce will no longer be in line for an Origin recall, with Brad Fittler announcing that he picked up an injury playing for the Newcastle Knights on Saturday.
While Pearce had a relatively quiet game as his Knights lost their first game in seven weeks to the ladder-topping Melbourne outfit, it was thought he was going to be drafted into the Origin squad for Game 2 as a replacement for Cody Walker, who was poor for the Blues in Game 1.
The must-win game in Perth was seen as the ideal opportunity to pair former Origin player Pearce up with youngster Nathan Clear as the Blues searched for a winning formula, however, Pearce won’t be making the trip.
It’s unclear at this stage exactly how serious the injury to Pearce is, but Fittler stated it was to do with his hip.
Speaking on Channel 9, Fittler said it was disappointing.
“I was speaking to Mitchell and I knew he had a cork,” Fittler said.
“He’s got a hip problem as well. He’ll be unavailable for selection.
“It’s a bit disappointing, it’s disappointing for him. He was really keen. It’s just not enough time to get him right. I knew he had a cork, but speaking to him this morning, he’ll be unavailable.”
The Blues may be forced to now run with the same pairing they had in Game 1, which will have fans and coaches a like concerned.
Injuries have already ruled out Luke Keary and Adam Reynolds, who were the other players thought to be in contention before the squad was picked for Game 1, which the Blues lost by four points in Brisbane, setting up the must-win encounter in Perth.
Pearce joins a growing casualty ward for the Blues, with David Klemmer and Payne Haas already confirmed to be forced out of the squad due to a broken wrist and hamstring strain respectively.