Last week it seemed a formality that Mitchell Pearce would sign for Manly. Last night it was a done deal at Cronulla. Today, it’s all but official that he is about to sign a monster four-year deal with the Knights.
The deal is reportedly worth $1 million a season over four years. The Sharks offer was reportedly a million dollars under what the Knights have tabled over the four years. Manly offered a heavily back ended contract due to salary cap restraints in 2018.
I’ve gone on record before as having said I hope Pearce ends up at Newcastle. I think we all have a soft spot for the struggling Knights. Pearce’s arrival won’t guarantee finals footy in 2018, but it brings them a lot closer. He can mentor young Brock Lamb and strike up an exciting combination with Connor Watson.
The long rebuilding process suddenly doesn’t look so long with the incumbent New South Wales halfback on board.
Pearce is cashing in following his release from the Roosters, and no one can hold a grudge against him for that, but in doing so he is also giving up a lot more than meets the eye.
Given the circumstances of Pearce’s release, I really thought he would end up at a side that was ready to challenge for a title. Both the Sea Eagles and Sharks look like they are hovering. With all due respect to the Knights, they certainly are not.
Pearce was pretty much told, after almost a decade’s service at the club including multiple Origins and a Grand Final win, that he wasn’t good enough.
The Roosters tossed him aside and replaced him with Cooper Cronk, believing it would present them a better opportunity to win a premiership (or two) over the next to years. After Cronk retired, well they’d worry about that later.
The ULTIMATE route of revenge for Pearce would be to be smiling on that podium next October holding the premiership trophy high. He has given that up, at least for the duration of Cooper Cronk’s Rooster’s deal.
Am I saying that Newcastle will not win a Premiership in the next two seasons? Absolutely!
They are a work in progress. Everyone knew that, Pearce included. By the fourth year, perhaps they’ll be ready, but there are absolutely no guarantees. Especially in this market place!
The understanding is there are massive incentives written into the deal. If Pearce can drive the Knights to a Grand Final, he’ll be a king. Literally he would be able to buy a golden thrown as a result.
But that looks a long way away.
The Knights have recruited well. Very well in fact. Moga aside though, who has come from a regular first grade spot from a successful team?
I admire Pearce for taking this shot, but in doing so he has given up any chance of showing the Roosters up. I suppose he’s better than I am. I would have signed for Manly or Cronulla for a $1 if it meant beating them to the title.
Also on the line is Pearce’s Origin spot. Surely Pearce, following how many series losses, is done in the Origin arena, but with a new coach on board, who knows?
Pearce has done his Origin prospects huge harm by signing for the Knights. That may sound over the top considering Gagai played for an inferior Knights side last season yet still played for state and country, but the play making duties are far different.
Who do you expect to partner Maloney in the halves next year? Pearce in a struggling Knights side with maybe 5 try assist, or Cleary who is steering around a high flying Panthers side, with 10 try assists?
This is a hugely simplified statement, but I can’t remember too many players from struggling teams playing in the halves at Origin level. Perhaps there was a case where the Cowboys were struggling, but with all due respect to Pearce, he is not Johnathan Thurston.
Hodkinson and Reynolds were playing Origin while the Dogs were flying. They delivered a series victory. When the Dogs fell away, so did their Origin prospects.
Last year was an exception as Adam Reynolds played for the Blues during a tough season for the Bunnies, yet we all know how they ended up.
I’m not saying he will miss Origin, although he should, but I am saying it will be a lot more likely he will be overlooked at Newcastle than if he were leading an in form Sharks or Manly side around the park.
The Knights insisted they would only sign Pearce if he were moving to the club for the right reasons. A premiership, at least in the short term, is off the table. His Origin prospects took a hit, although if his dreadful performances in sky blue in the past haven’t extinguished his chances by now perhaps nothing will.
Despite that it looks as though there were plenty of right reasons for Pearce to make the trip north .. about a million of them to be precise.