Pearce forced out for eight NRL matches

Mitchell Pearce.
Mitchell Pearce.

Sydney Roosters halfback Mitchell Pearce will have just three NRL games to convince New South Wales Origin coach Laurie Daley to retain him for the opening game of this year's series after being hit with an eight-game playing ban and record $125,000 fine for his drunken Australia Day exploits.

The Roosters had campaigned for Pearce to be stood down four weeks and fined $50,000.

But the NRL, which wanted to make a statement by suspending the son of Balmain great Wayne Pearce for 12 weeks, found middle ground which will see the 26-year-old be available to play against Newcastle in round nine.

That will give him three games to prove to Daley he should add to the 15 Origin games he has played since 2008.

Pearce, who was videoed simulating a lewd act with a dog at an Australia Day party, admitted he had a drinking problem.

He returned from a rehab clinic in Thailand this week, where he spent a month having treatment for his problem.

"This was a complex and unprecedented matter that required careful consideration. It was paramount we delivered the appropriate level of discipline, but neither could we ignore the player welfare component," Roosters chief executive John Lee said in statement.

A contrite Pearce admitted he deserved the hefty penalty and was now focused on his rehabilitation.

"Now that this has been decided, I can get on with my rehab, bunker down with training and work each day on making the right choices in what I do," he said in the statement.

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