Mitchell Pearce celebrates a try with Jake Friend.
Mitchell Pearce celebrates a try with Jake Friend.

Kind words for Mitchell Pearce

ONE just produced a semi-final performance for the ages, has two Dally M medals, two Golden Boots and eight State of Origin series wins.

The other is Mitchell Pearce.

But even Johnathan Thurston's glittering resume could not convince former Noosa Pirate Jake Friend to part ways with his premiership-winning Roosters teammate.

"I would not swap Junior for anyone," Friend said after Friday night's 31-30 win over North Queensland.

The 24-year-old praised his future Queensland teammate, Thurston (pictured, inset) after the North Queensland co-captain pulled his team out of a 30-point hole to come within a point of the greatest comeback in NRL finals history.

"He's probably one of the best - if not the best at the moment in the game," Friend said of Thurston.

"He's just everywhere and it was a big effort by the boys to contain him the way we did."

BUT the kindest words were saved for Pearce, who bounced back from being axed by New South Wales selectors to become one of the key players in Sydney's premiership defence.

The oft-maligned halfback came up with one of the biggest plays on Friday night when he scooped up a Cowboys kick and showed blistering pace to run the length of the field for Sydney's opening try.

Friend, who made a remarkable recovery after losing two litres of blood following internal injuries last month, said Pearce would be a key man against Rabbitohs in Friday night's grand final qualifier.

"He's our leader out there and he's been going unreal," Friend said.

"Another great game from him hopefully again next week and we get the chocolates."

The Sunshine Coast superstar also confirmed that he would be fully fit for Friday's must-win match, saying he made it through his first game back without any affects from the injury.

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