NSW Blues’ halfback Rachael Pearson is to play in this year’s Origin series opener in memory of her late grandfather, Barry, who died while she was at camp. Pearson explained that this is where her grandfather would have wanted her to be, and that he was a mad sports fanatic who loved watching her play rugby league, cricket, touch and soccer. Pearson revealed that one of their last conversations was about her starting at Parramatta this season and that it is nice to have the support of her rugby family at camp during this tough time.
The 29-year-old signed a three-year deal with the Parramatta Eels this season after playing with the Dragons in the NRLW last year. Pearson made her Origin debut last year and started her NRLW career in the back end of her 20s, after playing and coaching in her home town of Hay in south-western NSW.
While Pearson paired with Kirra Dibb in the halves last year, this year, Commonwealth Games gold medallist and Newcastle young gun Jesse Southwell will join her. Pearson spoke highly of Southwell, describing her as a young 18-year-old who is calm on the field.
Pearson noted that her teammates have offered her their support, which has been great. She admitted that it was emotional last year as evidenced in an interview where she had cried. Pearson conveyed that playing for the Blues in Origin is a game everyone wants to play in.
The Blues will play the Maroons at CommBank Stadium on Thursday night, and Pearson is further motivated to win for her grandfather. Pearson indicated that the team has connected well since arriving at camp and that they are like a family. Kezie Apps, the captain, ensured they all supported one another during this difficult time. Pearson’s family may be planning her grandfather’s funeral, but they will also be present to support her on Thursday night.