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James Maloney backs Mitchell Pearce to make NSW Blues selection for Origin decider

Mitchell Pearce was supposed to be in James Maloney's shoes during State of Origin game two on Sunday night.

Now the oft-maligned former NSW halfback could play alongside him with the Blues likely to search for a new playmaker for the series decider.

With an injured Nathan Cleary not expected back in Sydney until late on Monday, the Penrith star won't learn his fate until Tuesday morning.

However, scans are expected to confirm a syndesmosis injury which would all but ruled Cleary out of Origin III in Sydney on July 10.

And his unavailability has instantly turned the spotlight on Pearce, who was tipped to partner Cleary in Perth before the Knights No.7 made himself unavailable due to groin and hip issues.

"I got asked about Pearcey when they were talking about playing Mitch with Nath for this game and I said, 'Mate, 'he'd be a good fit'," Maloney told AAP.

Pearce and Maloney were the NSW halves combination for all three games in 2013 and 2017, both of which went to deciders that ended in tears.

This year's decider will be at ANZ Stadium, the same place where the pair heartbreakingly lost the third game by two points six years ago.

The series triumph was a record eighth straight for Queensland, before both were overlooked as NSW ended the drought in 2014.

While Maloney finally got his first series win over the Maroons last year, Pearce has yet to taste a series success in the interstate rivalry.

The 30-year-old has played in six Origin deciders, losing all of them, including his debut in 2008 when he replaced an injured Peter Wallace.

It sets the scene for one of the most pilloried figures in Origin history.

"I don't think it'd ever be a bad call bringing him in," Maloney said.

"But that's not my call. I hope Nath's right to go and if not, then Freddy (coach Brad Fittler) and everyone will pick the side that can win the game."

While all NRL club sides enjoyed a break over the representative weekend, Pearce was working to rehabilitate his injuries in preparation for Saturday's clash with Brisbane.

A premiership-winner with the Sydney Roosters in 2013, Pearce is considered in career-best form for a Knights side that is fifth in the NRL.

He leads the league in line break assists, equal first in total kicks, third in total kick metres and fifth in support plays.

Newcastle teammate David Klemmer could also be in line for a Blues recall after he missed game two with a broken wrist.

Fittler is expected to name his team for game three on Sunday night.

KINGSCLIFF, AUSTRALIA - MAY 25:  Mitchell Pearce and James Maloney run during a New South Wales Blues State of Origin training session at Cudgen Leagues Club on May 25, 2017 in Kingscliff, Australia.  (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)
Mitchell Pearce and James Maloney in action during a NSW Blues training session. Source: Getty


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