Who’s laughing now?
An infamous sledge from Johnathan Thurston to Mitchell Pearce has come back to bite the Queensland great after Pearce gained the ultimate State of Origin redemption on Wednesday night.
NSW's punching bag for the better part of 12 years, Pearce woke up on Thursday as an Origin hero.
In his eighth series, the 30-year-old halfback finally laid his hands on the shield after the Blues' thrilling 26-20 win over Queensland at ANZ Stadium.
After having the finger pointed at him following series losses in 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2017, it was fitting that the Newcastle playmaker played an important hand in what will go down as arguably NSW's most important Origin moment.
It was also the perfect revenge after Thurston, during the Maroons' 52-6 drubbing in the game three decider in 2015, famously sledged Pearce that his only chance of touching the Origin shield was to get a photo with the Wally Lewis statue outside Suncorp Stadium.
And the NSW Blues’ social media manager hadn’t forgotten it, tweeting a photo of Pearce with the shield on Wednesday night, accompanied by the perfect caption.
Pearce’s classy response
With the scores locked at 20-20 and with the game looking set to go to golden point, Pearce fired a long ball for Tom Trbojevic, who in turn put Blake Ferguson into open space.
And when James Tedesco crossed with the final play of the game, Pearce finally sealed his place as an Origin winner.
"I didn't expect the game to get to that situation where the game was 20-all," Pearce said.
"I thought we played really well for the 20-30 minutes after halftime.
"We created a lot of opportunities and we couldn't land the final punch out.
"There was a lot of linebreaks, a lot of good footy, it wasn't ideal. I just saw Turbo out there, I didn't do much at all. Fergo is an athlete and Teddy finished it off."
Pearce said he wouldn't be sending a picture of himself with the shield to Thurston.
"Nah mate, JT has won more Origins than I'll ever win, what a super player he was," Pearce said.
"I'm just grateful to get this win and be a part of this.
"Queensland's legacy - if we can do that, we'll be very happy people. They set the benchmark in Origin."
"My Origin career has been up and down but this game was just about tonight.
"I got called back in to do a job (as an injury replacement for Nathan Cleary), I just wanted to do my job for the team. We got the win."