Despite recently being linked with a move to several clubs both at home and abroad, Mitchell Pearce remains a vital part of the Knights' plans according to his head coach, Adam O'Brien.
The 32-year-old playmaker's services have reportedly been sought by a quartet of NRL clubs for next season, even though he still has a year left to run on his current deal with the Novacastrian club .
In recent weeks, murmurs about a move to either the Bulldogs, Raiders, Sharks and Tigers have been raised, as well as a shift to the French-based Super League side, Catalans.
However, O'Brien took to radio waves on Tuesday morning in an effort to quash the noise from the rumour mill.
When asked whether Pearce would remaining in the Hunter in 2022, the second-year coach offered an unequivocal answer.
“Yes he will," O'Brien told Sky Sports' Big Sports Breakfast.
The 43-year-old explained that Pearce's efforts against the Titans last weekend were indicative of what the half still had left in his tank.
"I can see so much football left in Mitchell Pearce," the head coach continued.
"You’ve only got to look at what he done [sic] on the weekend and I’m not talking about the field goal – he came up with some really clutch plays for us.
"His body is good, he has missed essentially half this season and I think that’s only going to help him long-term.
"Mitchell will be with us next year and we won’t be releasing him."
Even though the former Origin representative is logically inching towards the winter of his career, O'Brien doubled down on his stance of retention by claiming that a new deal to remain in a blue and red jersey would soon be tabled to Pearce and his management
"We’ll be looking to tie him down for another one [season] after that."
Should a new deal be struck to allow Pearce to continue his NRL career beyond the commencement of the 2023 season, he will continue his ascent up the all-time first-grade games tally.
Pearce ran out for his 300th NRL game earlier this season and currently sit in equal 32nd place on the aforementioned list with 307-apperances for both the Chooks and Knights across the past 15-seasons.