Mitchell has sullied Pearce family name

Mitchell Pearce
Mitchell Pearce

A common idiom when discussing families is: 'the apple doesn't fall far from the tree'. In essence, it means a son replicates his father.

But that is certainly not the case in the Pearce rugby league family.

I have never met Mitchell Pearce, but I know his dad very well. We were roommates for a week in Paris in 1983 when a team representing the Pacific played a side from Europe to commemorate 50 years of rugby league in France.

Wayne Pearce and I were the odd couple. I was the only Australian journalist covering the game, and the teetotal fitness-fanatic lock was lumped with this smoking, beer-drinking roomie.

A long friendship ensued. We shared many 'off-the-record' talks, one of which concerned his talented son Mitchell.

The man nicknamed Junior was never one to blow his own trumpet, but he eagerly told me his son possessed exceptional footballing ability. When Mitchell was merely a teenager his dad forecast he would play NRL.

Like any father would be, he was exceedingly chuffed and full of hope about his son's future in a game that had been good to him, and given his family so much.

I can only imagine how gutted Wayne Pearce and his wife Terri must be right now. Their pin-up son, with whom the entire family spent Christmas in Thailand, has yet again sullied his reputation and the proud family name.

Not only that, some drama-charged journos have suggested the position of Wayne Pearce sitting on the NRL Commission has now become untenable. They are asking how he can help run the game when he can't control his 26-year-old son.

That assumption is so unfair.

Unlike his son, who grew up with a silver spoon in his mouth, Wayne Pearce had a tough childhood. His father died when he was 14. The eldest of three boys, he sold hot dogs at Leichhardt Oval to help balance the family budget.

And that is the kind of belated education Mitchell Pearce needs during this inevitable break from rugby league.

Part of his rehab should be to get a real job, to make him realise just what a breeze his past nine seasons as an NRL player has been. And working with the RSPCA too - without pay - might help.

Not for one second do I feel sorry for Mitchell Pearce. His erratic conduct, especially as captain of one of the proud foundation NRL clubs, was despicable. But sadly - and disturbingly - like so many boofheads before him, he is a repeat offender.

Having said that, I hope the bloke who took the video and on-sold it to the media is examining his morals. His low act rates on a par with the behaviour of Pearce.

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