Former Newcastle half and media personality Matty Johns has made a dramatic plea to Mitchell Pearce and the Knights, asking for the veteran to stay at the club in 2022.
The plea from Johns follows a disastrous finish to the season, with the Knights knocked out by the Parramatta Eels in Sunday's elimination final.
It's added increased speculation to the future of Pearce, who has been widely pursued by the Canterbury Bulldogs, likely for 2023, but potentially for 2022.
Pearce has reportedly told those close to him that he wants to finish his career in Sydney, with other clubs in the Wests Tigers and Canberra Raiders also reportedly interested, while there has also been interest from overseas.
Speaking on SEN Radio, Johns said Pearce was an elite halfback who simply can't be let go.
"They can’t allow Mitchell Pearce to leave, there’s been all sorts of talk that he will go here or there," Johns told SEN.
"But the bottom line is, he’s under contract at the Newcastle Knights, and they’ve got to keep him."
NRL journalist Brent Read believes that if the veteran halfback goes, then origin star and Knights fullback Kalyn Ponga could make the move to halfback next season to fill the void, with genuine speculation surrounding Pearce's future at the club.
Ponga played some time at five-eighth on Sunday against Parramatta and set up multiple scoring opportunities, and could be a glimpse of whats to come for the 23-year old in a new position.
"The interesting thing is we saw Kalyn Ponga up in the line yesterday," Read told Triple M.
"When he got his hands on the ball he created havoc. If there is a move with Pearce over the off-season and there is a chance there could be, that could be the prelude to Kalyn Ponga moving to six on a permanent basis next year."
Ponga along with Pearce is contracted until the end of the 2022 season, although the star fullback and Queensland Origin representative has an option in his favour which could keep him in the Hunter until 2024.
The Knights finished seventh on the ladder in 2021 with 12 wins and 12 losses, and suffered an elimination final loss to the Parramatta Eels 28-20 on Sunday.
A clean bill of health heading into next season could see the Knights settled in for a stronger 2022 campaign, with the future of Pearce yet to be decided.