Roosters veteran is uncertain

WHILE still undecided on his long-term playing future, Sydney Roosters veteran Craig Fitzgibbon said he will head into this year's NRL season in his best shape for years.

The 31-year-old Test and NSW representative is weighing up whether to hang up the boots or pursue another deal with the Roosters when his one-year deal expires at season's end.

And while keeping an open mind about his situation, the backrower admitted at the weekend he was surprised how good he was feeling approaching the Roosters' season-opener against South Sydney next Sunday.

“It's a bit of a funny one because I never anticipated to be feeling this good at this stage,” Fitzgibbon said when asked about his future.

“I'm in better shape this time of the year than I was for the last three or four years and I never thought that would happen.

“I'm pretty open about the whole thing and I've got a young family I've got to look after now ... but I've been surviving year by year for the last few years so we'll see what happens.”

Fitzgibbon was optimistic about the Roosters' prospects in 2009 but acknowledged they had plenty of room for improvement after a mixed pre-season.

In a worrying sign for the Roosters' NRL rivals, Fitzgibbon predicted 19-year-old halfback Mitchell Pearce was set for another stunning season based on what he had seen in the trials.

“He's an absolute freak,” Fitzgibbon said.

“He's still just a young kid, he just keeps developing and it's scary to think what he could end up being.”

Fitzgibbon also backed Pearce to retain the NSW No.7 jersey after he was called up for game three last year while also hoping he would play a part in the State of Origin series himself.

He said whoever did get picked for the Blues this year would be under unprecedented pressure with Queensland on the verge of winning four straight series.

“The pressure is just going to be unbelievable, I can't remember a Blues team that's going to be under the spotlight as hard as this one,” he said.

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