MANLY hooker Apisai Koroisau says Mitchell Pearce will improve as a player if he comes to the Sea Eagles, backing coach Trent Barrett to mould an irresistible combination between the uncontracted playmaker and fellow star Daly Cherry-Evans.
Barrett’s side is one of three clubs in the race for Pearce’s signature after Melbourne on Monday pulled out due to limited space in the salary cap.
And after extending his contract with the club until the 2020 season, Barrett is understood to be a trump card tipping the battle for Pearce in Manly’s favour despite not being able to compete with Cronulla, much less Newcastle, financially.
Koroisau considers Barrett one of the best coaches he’s ever had, and he told foxsports.com.au that the former Origin and Kangaroos half’s unique teaching style would bring out the best in Pearce.
“Yeah, he’s got a really different way of teaching,” Koroisau said.
“He takes every player’s abilities and tries to enhance that instead of changing too much, so I think if Pearcey came over, Baz is a former halfback himself, so he’d know how to handle Pearcey and handle Cherry-Evans.”
Having a coach who understands how to take a half’s game to the next level is one thing but the buy-in Pearce would get from his Sea Eagles teammates should he end up on the northern beaches gives even more credence to the move.
“I was pretty upset when I heard Blake (Green) was leaving but Pearcy as well, he’s a great player,” Koroisau said.
“He’s a fantastic halfback, you saw he was one of the best this year and I’d really back him if he was coming to Manly.”
Cherry-Evans has reportedly received text messages from Pearce sussing out the club and the skipper last week took the significant step of saying he would relinquish the No.7 jersey to accommodate the 17-game NSW halfback.
That’s a big gesture from one of the best halves in the NRL and Koroisau said it was proof of the team-first mentality running through the Manly roster under Barrett.
“Cherry’s very selfless as a player,” Koroisau said.
“He only wants the best for the team and he wants to be the best, so for him to say that is really big of him.
“He had a great season at 7, he had an outstanding season, so for him to say that I think really shows that he’s a true leader and only wants the best for the club.”
The signing of Pearce would land Manly right in the thick of premiership contention and Koroisau is looking for omens wherever he can find them.
His incredible World Cup journey with Fiji is a platform that provides one, with the dynamic hooker winning a premiership with the Rabbitohs the season after he linked with the Bati for the 2013 tournament.
That can easily be written off as a coincidence but Koroisau says there are huge benefits that flow from spending more than a month of quality time with such a humble group of men.
“My own experience is I played that 2013 World Cup and then had the chance to go into that 2014 season with South Sydney,” Koroisau said.
“That was a good year for myself as well.
“Humility’s a big thing, and sometimes it’s a thing that gets lost in this game, but to be grounded once again and really know where you stand and how hard you should work is helpful and I think a lot of the boys are going to take experience out of this camp.”
Originally published as Manly’s massive trump card in Pearce pursuit