Hill warns Daley off picking Pearce for Origin opener
FORMER Blues and Kangaroo playmaker Scott Hill has urged Laurie Daley to overlook Mitchell Pearce for the State of Origin opener, saying the premiership-winning halfback did not have the "emotional intelligence" to conquer Queensland.
The former Melbourne five-eighth, who lives on the Coast, believes New South Wales should name the unconventional pairing of James Maloney and Josh Reynolds as the halves combination in game one.
"Pearce hasn't been able to do anything at all with his opportunities," Hill said.
"He just can't seem to step up in high pressure situations.
"It's the most competitive game of rugby league in the world and there's just some guys who can't go to that level."
If Pearce (pictured) plays halfback it will be his 13th appearance in the number seven, equalling Peter Sterling's NSW tally and falling three short of the number of Origin games Andrew Johns played at halfback.
Hill said Roosters five-eighth Maloney should wear seven with Bulldogs five-eighth Josh Reynolds making his first appearance in the six jersey.
The 10-test veteran said poor kicking and an inability to capitalise on good field position had led to the Blues' record eight series losing streak.
"That's been difference: the halves haven't been good enough," he said.
"Guys like Pearce don't have the emotional intelligence to deal with State of Origin football.
"That's where Queensland are so strong because all those guys that they've got in their halves, hooker and fullback; the emotional intelligence of those guys to be able to deliver under pressure is enormous.
"They continually do it. For me NSW haven't had halves to do that since Andrew Johns retired."
Hill said Maloney and Reynolds - two playmakers who regularly attacked the defensive line - were perfect for State of Origin.
"You don't get opportunities in State of Origin and you need guys who will create something," he said.
"Guys we've picked in the past come from great structures and they are effective in that, but that's not good enough in Origin."
Hill said his third option would be Mullen, but thought the Newcastle pivot
had not been sufficiently dominant at club level to earn selection.
"He (Mullen) hasn't delivered really at a high level under pressure at the NRL level," Hill said.
Sharks playmaker Todd Carney was ruled out for the same reason, while South Sydney halfback Adam Reynolds' performance in last year's finals series disappointed Hill.
"I thought they should have picked him last year but I think the finals series really exposed him.
"He wasn't up for it and if you're not up for the finals, you won't be up for Origin."