NEWCASTLE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 17: Kalyn Ponga of the Newcastle Knights in action during the round 22 NRL match between the Newcastle Knights and the North Queensland Cowboys at McDonald Jones Stadium on August 17, 2019 in Newcastle, Australia. (Photo by Ashley Feder/Getty Images)

Newcastle have named their leadership group for the 2021 season, with five players named in the ensemble while veteran playmaker Mitchell Pearce was released from his leadership duties, per newcastleknights.com.au.

Kalyn Ponga, Daniel Saifiti, Blake Green, Mitch Barnett and Jayden Brailey were named in the five-piece, with the club set to elect a captain at their season launch in March.

Pearce decided to step away from the captaincy following an off-field sexting scandal during the end of last year, with Green tipped to take on the proverbial captain’s armband.

“It’s been a traumatic few weeks in my personal life and for those I love,” Pearce said earlier this month.

“Unfortunately my actions have impacted the team and, more importantly, the people I have closest to me, Kristen and my family.

“I’m taking steps now to address these issues and I feel it would be in the best interests of the club for me to step down as captain for the season.

“I love this club and I love my family and I’ve committed to working as hard as I can to be the best man I can be both on and off the field.”