Mitchell Pearce and Cameron Smith have been going head to head on the rugby league field for years. Pearce, six years younger than Smith, recently gave Cam a call to discuss all things football.
MP: Hi Cameron, its Mitchell Pearce from the Roosters.
CS: Hi Mitch, how are you mate?
MP: Good mate, I was just wondering if we could have a bit of a talk.
CS: Sure mate, I’m a bloody good talker. Have you seen me with the referees?
MP: Yeah, I have, you are pretty good at it.
CS: Anyway mate, what’s on your mind?
MP: Well, I wanted to talk about the way you play, you know, pick your brain a little so I can improve myself going into 2018.
CS: Happy to share mate, but I can’t give away any Queenslander secrets.
MP: Yeah, I know. (Pause) Are there really secrets?
CS: Mate, if only you knew. We’ve been doing the same thing for over ten years and you guys still haven’t worked it out.
MP: Oh. Right. Anyway, can I ask you something?
MP: I was watching the game against the Raiders on Saturday and you seemed to touch the ball in almost every play when you guys were in attack. Why is that?
CS: Well I reckon that’s what an organiser does, you know, takes control when his team needs composure.
MP: But don’t you get tired?
CS: Sure do, but that’s why I play footy; to get the best out of myself and do everything I can for the boys.
MP: I notice you even do it with your kicking as well, you know, finding touch just at the right time and giving the forwards a rest when they need it.
CS: That’s what I’m out there for mate, to control the game, the tempo. I’m sure you try to do the same thing Mitch.
MP: Ah….yeah……well……I try. (scratches head) Cam, how do you make the right decisions? You always seem to take the right option at the right time.
CS: Couldn’t tell you mate, not something I think about. The coach has a great structure down here and we all know our role. I just throw a wink Billy’s way or nod at Cooper and we run our plays. When I feel things are running a little against us, I’ll grubber into touch or pick up the line speed. You know, just all the natural things that footballers do. Instinct really.
MP: So you just feel it?
CS: Yeah, pretty much. I’m sure you do the same.
MP: Yeah…..well I try to……but it’s hard with all the voices and instincts all talking to me at the same time.
CS: Sorry mate, what was that? You just broke up there for a minute…..I missed it…..What did you say?
MP: Ah….nothing mate, it’s alright. Mate can I ask you one more question?
CS: Sure mate, but I’ll have to be quick I want to spend a bit of time with the kids.
MP: Sure. Mate, how do you get so much respect from the squad and stamp your leadership on the group? Some of the blokes here at the Roosters reckon they are scared to death when they get into Kangaroos camp. They reckon if they stuff up they have to answer to you.
CS: True mate, I’ve had a few chats with a number of players over the years. It’s just about standards mate. Two types of standards. Firstly, on the field. You earn their respect with consistency and effort. They don’t respect me if I kick a winning field goal once a year.
They respect the tackles in the middle of the ruck, the little efforts that make the real difference, you know, the tough stuff. I’m sure the Roosters boys would say the same things about you.
MP: Yeah…….I’m sure they would. What’s the second standard?
CS: Mate it’s the person. People like decent people. People who live pretty clean, keep their nose out of trouble and just try and be a decent bloke.
MP: Really? That simple?
CS: Yep, I’m sure it’s the same up at your joint mate. The guys who clown around and let the group down, I’m sure the other guys lose a little respect for them. Makes it tough for those guys to be real leaders.
MP: Yeah…….maybe it does.
CS: It does mate, trust me. Life is less complicated than what a lot of people make it Mitch. Everybody thinks I run around with a thousand tactics and plans, to tell you the truth I just play footy mate, play footy as if I was running around the playground as a kid. Maybe I’m lucky that it comes naturally to me. You get what I’m saying mate.
MP: Yeah….sure do…..I think. Thanks for the chat Cam. Hopefully, I’ll see you at ANZ early October mate.
CS: Well I’ll be there, not sure about you. Alright mate, I better go play with those little tackers now. See ya mate. (hangs up)
(beep, beep, beep, beep)
MP: Ah……..bye mate. (pause) I have no idea what he was talking about.