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Pearce builds Origin case in Knights win

Mitchell Pearce intends to let his football do the talking despite making a compelling case for a State of Origin career revival in Newcastle's 45-12 NRL mauling of St George Illawarra.

Edging back into the Origin conversation after a series of strong performances, Pearce turned on a masterclass when guiding the Knights to their biggest win since the Wayne Bennett era.

He then refused to talk up his NSW claims.

He didn't have to.

The former Blues No.7 set up four tries in Sunday's win in Mudgee, scored one of his own and kicked a late 35m field goal.

In the past month he's laid on nine tries and crossed for four himself, with the Knights winning four straight for the first time since 2015.

But Pearce preferred to lend his support to out-of-form Penrith halfback Nathan Cleary to keep the NSW No.7 jersey.

"I don't feel I have to come out here and talk myself up," Pearce said.

"I have played plenty of games and I haven't had much success. It has been spoken about for 10 years. I am happy with my footy.

"I am happy with who I am as a player, I am comfortable with myself as a player. If the Blues want to come to me, I'm not going to say no.

"I think Nathan Cleary should be there. That's my opinion."

Fullback Kalyn Ponga also had a field day for the Knights, finishing with 24 points and scoring the try of the day with a 30-metre effort that saw him step two players and beat three others.

But the big story was Pearce after he set up a 28-0 half-time lead.

Pearce played 18 games across seven series for NSW before he joined Newcastle, but never once got to lift the shield.

However Blues coach Fittler threw Pearce's name into the ring last week, talking up his combinations with his former Sydney Roosters teammates.

Knights coach Nathan Brown backed 30-year-old Pearce to be a better player in Origin due to his experience since last in that arena.

"Coming to the Knights for Pearcey was a new challenge. He is used to playing at the Roosters with many internationals and Origin players," Brown said.

"Coming to us to play with younger players ... I think for having the challenges he's had coming to us, I think he will be a better player in those arenas.

"Because he had to learn to play on the back foot a bit, not the front foot."

Pearce will have one last chance to impress Fittler in next Friday night's blockbuster against the Roosters.

The Dragons were barely in the contest after they failed to have a play-the-ball in the Knights' half in the opening 17 minutes, while their only tries came when the Knights had Kurt Mann sin-binned for repeated offences.

--End of article--

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