Adam Pearce is as tough as they come, with the hard-hitting forward widely regarded as one of the fiercest competitors in Group 9.
The three-time premiership winner with the Blues might be a 200-plus game veteran in his 16th year of top-grade rugby league, but the workaholic lock isn’t showing any signs of slowing down.
In fact, a move back to the middle after spending more than a decade in the second row has given Pearce a new lease on life and he has been one of Tumut’s best through the first 13 rounds of the 2021 Group 9 competition.
Pearce has been throwing himself into tackles like a fresh-faced 19-year-old with nothing to lose, adding starch and vigour to a loaded Tumut pack, while his work ethic in attack is unmatched, taking the ball forward in nearly every set he is on the field.
“I started out in the middle and in 2010, I kind of wanted to play in the second row, and they gave me a chance,” Pearce explained.
“I asked them this year if I could move back into the middle and it suits my game playing in the middle.”
When quizzed on his aggressive style of play, Pearce said it came down to him never being the biggest prop but wanting to make up for it with enthusiasm.
“I think it was kind of the fact I was never the biggest, or strongest and I always wanted to put in and it’s how I wanted to play and I’ve stuck to that,” Pearce said.
It has been a long and winding journey for the club legend, who debuted in 2006, playing mostly reserve grade before progressing to starting prop in 2007 and helping the Blues to a premiership.
In 2008, Pearce ventured north, spending a year with the Proserpine Brahmans before returning to Tumut between 2009-11, winning a second premiership in 2010.
“It was a good time to be involved with the club,” Pearce said.
“I was just happy to play first grade to tell you the truth and to get that opportunity was great. It wasn’t about winning grand finals or anything, it was about playing footy.”
After 2011, Pearce ventured to the Queanbeyan Roos, playing there from 2012-2016 and in the process, he won multiple player of the year awards, while also representing Monaro.
Pearce was considered one of, if not the best back rower in the competition, and played alongside his brother Jed from 2013 onwards, with the pair helping the Roos to a premiership in 2013, albeit Pearce sat out the grand final with a broken arm.
When asked why he made the move to the Canberra Cup competition, Pearce explained that it was about getting away and testing himself.
“Myself and Josh Toohey both wanted to move away and we spoke to a few different clubs,” Pearce said.
“They had been pretty successful, and it was pretty close by and when we got there, we fitted right it.
“It was a great experience. I learned a lot of stuff there at Queanbeyan, and it was one of the best decisions I made.”
These days, Pearce is still as tough as ever, and is considered one of the best players in the competition.
“I just keep training hard and always try to be fit,” Pearce said.
“If you are always fit, you are less likely to get injuries. Plus, I’ve had a bit of luck in there, you see a lot of blokes who are unlucky with ACL injuries and I’ve never done anything like that.”
The 33-year-old joked that the seasons were starting to catch up with him.
“It takes ages to get over games,” Pearce laughed.
“I feel like crap for most of the week and finally come good for the weekend and preseasons have been killing me the last few years.”
Pearce’s name and retirement have been thrown around together in recent years, and while he admitted he would consider finishing his career soon, he wanted to go out on his own terms.
“I was thinking about doing it after last year, and I’m thinking about it this year but I’ll see how the body and mind feels,” Pearce said.
“I don’t want to make it about me, I just want to go out on my own bat; just make the call when I’m ready.”
With Pearce’s career beginning to wind down, he is chasing a fourth premiership with the club, after captain/coaching the side along with Dean Bristow to a drought-breaking premiership in 2019.
“Obviously coaching the grand final in 2019 would be a highlight,” Pearce said.
“To see where we had taken the club from, to where it was, it was pretty unreal.”
Still, Pearce has some unfinished business, after losing the 2020 grand final to Gundagai, and he said there was a good feeling around the club, but he stressed he was just focusing on one game at a time.
“I thought we had a really good team last year, and it was tough to lose,” Pearce said.
“A few of the boys are getting excited for this year and that’s what people are like and people are saying we should win, but I’m not listening to too much noise.
“If people want to say we can win the grand final, that’s fine, but it’s not something I do, we still have plenty to do.”
With the Blues facing Young on Saturday, Pearce will again be front and centre as his side marches onto Twickenham, chasing 10 consecutive victories in 2021.