CANBERRA Raiders National Youth League player Jed Pearce knows all about playing on the big stage of regional rugby league, having been raised by the Queanbeyan Kangaroos to be apart of the Raiders' under 20's squad.
The west Queanbeyan custodian has backed new recruit Josh Mitchell to fire for his local club and take them to a fifth grand final in filling the void for some player losses this season.
The Kangaroos will likely be without young stars Pearce, Josh Baker and Brett Soloman this season as the men look to further their careers at the Raiders, and they have also lost Jeff Donald and Lee Welsh to retirement.
But Pearce has backed his home team to fire, saying they still have a premiership quality squad, and that Mitchell will provide even more attacking flair for them.
"He's definitely going to add a lot more attack for them this year, he's a very creative hooker, and once Goz [Kangaroos coach/captain Aaron Gorrell] comes back to play again, there will be great opportunities," he said.
Pearce hoped that Gorrell would play again, with a decision yet to be made, as his NRL experience with the Brisbane Broncos and St George Illawarra Dragons had been a great influence at the club.
But he also backed interim skipper Troy Whiley to get the job done in Gorrell's absence for a second-straight season.
"He's an unreal talker out on the field, he tends to boost us a lot whenever we're down...he's definitely a good leader," said Pearce.
Pearce said he would never had made the Raiders NYC squad if it was not for his development at the Kangaroos, and said this was reflected in Baker and Soloman also progressing from the club.
"Aaron made me pick up my game a lot more and made me realise that there's a lot more that goes into footy. Goz and the Roos really changed my footy life," he said.