Mitchell Pearce arrived in Newcastle this morning, greeting his Knights teammates, and started training for the first time since his well-publicised departure from the Roosters.
Ending a 10-year association with the Roosters, the much-maligned playmaker was criticised by numerous rugby league veterans – who were critical of his decision to join the wooden spooners, fearing that his career could come to an unpleasant halt.
Pearce particularly responded to Paul Gallen in his first press conference in Knights colours, ‘fearing’ for Pearce’s game and by extension, his future NSW chances.
Questioned whether he sees himself in Origin contention in the near future, Pearce claims that he’s primarily motivated by his own happiness. If he can manage to get the best out of himself, then perhaps he could get back to the pinnacle of rugby league.
“That wasn’t the main focus of my decision,” he said.
“The main focus of my decision was firstly happiness, a new opportunity and a new challenge.
“That’s what motivates me the most at this point in my career and that’s why I’m standing here.
“I wanted to come here and be a part of this club and what they’re building.
“All that other stuff takes care of itself if you’re being the best person you can every day.”
Asked whether Gallen was filthy after Pearce rejected an offer from Cronulla, Pearce giggled: “Maybe a little bit.”.
After Pearce’s interview with Nathan Brown, he immediately phoned his father, former Balmain great Wayne Pearce, to inform him of the decision to be apart of their promising rebuild.
“As soon as I came to Newcastle, I called dad on the way home and said there’s something special, the club’s building to a really good place,” Pearce said.
“I see myself at a point in my career where I’m excited to take that leadership role.
“They’ve taken some hits the last couple of years and built some real resilience. I can hopefully bring a bit of experience.”
Pearce is sympathetic to the Knight’s young playing group, enduring three consecutive wooden spoons, before their time. Pearce hopes that they can learn of the 28-year old, who was thrown into first-grade at the age of 17, before being selected for representative football several years later.
“They’ve come in and had to learn the hard way,” he said.
“You naturally build a resilience by doing that.
“The first thing I noticed when coming into training today was there is a mad buzz around.
“It’s a similar feeling to what I had at the Roosters. There’s a family feeling here.
“And it seems like there’s no fear.
“It’s a recipe for success.”