The Knights finally confirmed what we were all expecting for well over a month now: that Mitchell Pearce would be released from his contract to sign a longer term deal in the English Super League.

The release drew to a close an NRL career that spanned over 300 games, included 19 Origin appearances and delivered both an NRL premiership and World Club Challenge win.

Not since 2006 has the NRL functioned without the Roosters turn Newcastle star.

Pearce has enjoyed a career glittered with the highest of highs, and truthfully some embarrassing lows, which really poses the question; where does he stand amongst players of similar achievements?

He still has at least two seasons with Catalan (with the option of a third) but we're going to look at his rugby league career in Australia and discuss what his legacy will be.

Son of a gun:
Any player related to a former NRL player immediately attracts attention and pressure that other players of a similar age are lucky enough to escape.

It multiplies when your father is a legend both on and off the field. In Mitchell's case, his father's shadow would loom large in the early years of his career.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 24: Mitchell Pearce of the Knights looks on after another Tigers try during the round 23 NRL match between the Wests Tigers and the Newcastle Knights at Campbelltown Stadium on August 24, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt Blyth/Getty Images)

Ultimately Mitchell would surpass his father's milestone of 16 Origin appearances (with 19 of his own) and become far more than "Wayne's son".

If anything, I believe Mitchell used his father's success to fuel his own journey. Although he would never represent the Kangaroos, you could certainly mount a case that Mitchell more than followed in his dad's footsteps.

Premiership winner:
Due to the way he moved clubs, and other distractions, it often gets forgotten just how good a footballer Pearce was at his peak with the Roosters.

He was hugely instrumental in their premiership run in 2013. His halves partnership with James Maloney was close unstoppable at NRL level.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 26: James Maloney of the Kangaroos looks on during an Australian Kangaroos training session on October 26, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

Pearce spearheaded his side's run to the grand final in 2010 also, although they would fall to Wayne Bennett's Dragons in the decider.

The fact he was chosen to represent the NSW Blues on 19 occasions shows just how dominant he was in his role for the tri-colours.

His performances in Newcastle, which it's easy to forget he represented 71 times, saw him among the club's best players on a consistent basis.

Despite his efforts across a successful NRL career, as with most players who have achieved said status, he'll best be remembered for his 2013 premiership-winning season.

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Off-field incidents
I mentioned previously that it's easy to forget just how good Pearce really was. Unfortunately, that is mainly thanks to his own doing.

Pearce routinely found ways to place roadblocks in front of him through poor decision making off the field.

The yellow dress is something NRL meme pages still reference today.

Of course the Australia Day video that surfaced of a very jolly Pearce will follow him for the rest of his career.

Unfortunately, Pearce himself was his own worst enemy at times.

Origin struggles
Of course, you cannot discuss Mitchell Pearce's overall career without making mention of the horror run he had (results-wise) representing the Sky Blue of New South Wales.

The halfback always cops the brunt of criticism in losing efforts. That's not entirely unfair, although I do believe Pearce was fed to the wolves.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 21: Mitchell Pearce of the Blues looks dejected during game two of the State Of Origin series between the New South Wales Blues and the Queensland Maroons at ANZ Stadium on June 21, 2017 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

I believe it was Laurie Daley who stated that the Blues' team would be built around giving Pearce the tools to end Queensland's run of dominance.

How many times had we heard commentators, players and even coaches state "this is Pearce's team".

Unfortunately for Pearce he represented his state during the most dominant era in Origin history. A team of players headlined by names such as Johnathan Thurston, Cooper Cronk, Cameron Smith, Billy Slater and Greg Inglis routinely did the job at Pearce's expense.

Few will forget Johnathan Thurston running halfway across the field to unload a verbal tirade on a broken Pearce following yet another QLD win in a decider.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 21: Mitchell Pearce of the Blues and Johnathan Thurston of the Maroons react during game two of the State Of Origin series between the New South Wales Blues and the Queensland Maroons at ANZ Stadium on June 21, 2017 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Thankfully for Pearce, and long-suffering fans south of the Tweed, the 2019 series would finally see the then Knights captain deliver something that had eluded him for oh so many years: A series victory.

It would be irresponsible to place blame for a series of failures squarely on Pearce but it does go with the territory.

He was able to sign off with the aforementioned series win in front of 82,000 at ANZ Stadium.

I don't believe Pearce receives nearly enough praise for the footy he provided over the past 14 years.

He was in the top three halfbacks for a long time during his Roosters run, while he helped the Knights return to finals footy after a very long time of falling short.

Yes, he was put in an unenviable task in Origin and yes he has only himself to blame with regards to off-field incidents, but I truly hope that doesn't provide the lasting memory.

Pearce is a player who represented one of the NRL's superpower clubs for 238 games and really looked as though he would be a one-club player.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 25: Mitchell Pearce of the Roosters celebrates kicking a field goal to claim golden point victory during the round eight NRL match between the Sydney Roosters and the St George Illawarra Dragons at Allianz Stadium on April 25, 2017 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Unfortunately, though his legacy will be as a player who achieved great things but probably stopped himself from reaching his absolute potential.

One thing is for sure though, he'll be among the competition's elite for the Dragons when he moves to France.


  1. Give me a break. He entered first grade too young and could not even pass both ways in his first the years of football with the Chooks. Check his first year footage. He was exposed against the Dragons in the Grand Final with a ‘piss’ (pun intended) weak halves partner. He got in early due to his athletic ability. No brains or ability to organise a team. See fading Knights each year he lost his number 6. His father was also subject to myths. The big health kick angle in Right League Week and local papers when he was a known regular smoker during his playing career and played in some of the best Australian sides ever and was not in the same league as Bob Lindner when he was fit. Father and son were both some of the fittest footballers to lace on a boot, but both cracked when pressure was applied – see dropped ball with line wide open in the 89 Grand Final. Super League will be good for him. Any mug that hits on someone else’s girlfriend (known to his own team mate) whilst already engaged still needs a lot of work in the character department. The legends of this great game sort out their character before becoming a legend. Maybe he still has a chance.

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