Where to now for Mitchell Pearce?

Jack Byrnes Roar Pro

By Jack Byrnes, Jack Byrnes is a Roar Pro

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11 Have your say

    Somewhere between a rock, a hard place and a line of razor wire sits a rugby league halfback with a cloud above his head.

    Forced to walk out on the club he grew up within in – not to mention the 238 games he played for them – Mitchell Pearce is encountering his career’s most pivotal moment. Indeed requesting a release from the Roosters was the biggest decision Pearce the footballer will ever make.

    It’s a decision that will make or break his career, but it’s a decision he had to make nonetheless. Being told to stick around and learn from one of your fiercest rivals, who has also stolen your number seven jersey, is like being dumped by your high school sweetheart and forced to kiss the hand of the man who took your place.

    The very notion of education needs to be questioned. Could a ten-year halfback with nearly 20 Origins to his name really learn from Cooper Cronk? Sure, Cronk is one of the game’s most celebrated halfbacks who was won premierships, world cups and, in the face of Pearce himself, State of Origins.

    What we mustn’t forget, however, is that alongside Cronk at every turn was a man named Cameron Smith. For all intents and purposes Cronk is essentially untried without the game’s greatest ever player providing him service from dummy half.

    There is no questioning Cronk’s dedication to professionalism, though. He is the NRL’s answer to Tom Brady, a man who seemingly gets better with age. A meticulous obsession with preparation and recovery is largely credited for that.

    This is an area of the game that almost every NRL player could no doubt look to improve.

    (Image: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

    Despite this, Pearce has made his bed. Just who provides the pillows and blankets, however, is yet to be decided. It will also go a long way to forging the dynasty that the New South Wales halfback will so desperately crave.

    The early favourites are the Manly Sea Eagles, but here Pearce will encounter two fairly significant hurdles. First and foremost Manly simply don’t have the salary cap space to match what is being bandied about by other potential suitors. While we’ve seen several players sacrifice salary for success over the years, it would not surprise anyone if Newcastle were able to legitimately double Manly’s offer.

    Second, Pearce has made no secret of the fact he left the Roosters for pastures new so he could continue being the number one playmaker in his side. Daly Cherry-Evans is the top dog at Manly.

    With Blake Green being allowed to take up a huge multi-year offer with the Warriors, DCE will likely have more structural emphasis placed on his shoulders next season. It’s a responsibility he is ready for, and it will leave absolutely no doubt in the minds of anyone about who runs the show on the Northern Beaches. With Lachlan Croker reportedly tearing the house down in preseason training, it wouldn’t be the worst idea giving the former Junior Kangaroo first dig at the number six jersey.

    (Image: AAP Image/Dave Hunt)

    Further north, Newcastle would be a logical choice. Here he will earn an income that will set him up for life. On top of that he will become not only the on-field general of a team in the midst of one of the most exciting rebuilds in recent memory but also the face of a club that means so much to so many. Newcastle is a place that lives and breathes rugby league, and Pearce could leave a significant mark on the people of the region if success were to follow him to the Steel City.

    On the flip side, success is by no means guaranteed at the Knights. A host of new players aside, the club is still the recipient of three straight wooden spoons. While Pearce would add experience and polish to an otherwise extremely inexperienced spine, he won’t win them a premiership overnight.

    But at Cronulla or Manly he just may do this.

    The Sharks are in an interesting position. With legends Paul Gallen and Luke Lewis on the doorstep of retirement and James Maloney and Jack Bird moving on, their premiership window may be closing. If Pearce were to sign on, however, there’s no reason he along with Matt Moylan and Josh Dugan couldn’t smash that window wide open with a premiership trophy. How much control he will command with Moylan, Holmes, Dugan and Townsend all vying for ball, though, is unknown.

    Wherever Pearce goes, he will need to improve as a player. His inability to close out the big games is a legitimate concern, and anyone who forks out close to $1 million on a playmaker will not wish for that to continue. At 28 years of age, the time to step up is now.

    Only Mitchell Pearce himself can make that happen.

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    The Crowd Says (11)

    • Roar Rookie

      November 22nd 2017 @ 7:22am
      Hard Yards said | November 22nd 2017 @ 7:22am | ! Report

      The Roosters and Manly have a long tradition of swapping players between themselves. And those swaps have worked out well.

      There will be no glory at Newcastle for the remainder of Pearce’s career.

      The Sea Eagles are not carrying Skivi Mattai and Snake in their cap as they were last year, even though both of those players never touched a blade of grass in 2017. So it’s not beyond the realm of possibility for them to come up with a cheque – even though I’ve seen some reports that Nathan Brown has $2m to throw around at the Knights. But surely, the Knights need a number of great players – not one superstar (and I’ll call Pearce that for the sake of the argument).

      Then where do you play Pearce if he does come to Brookie? Students of the game will recall that DCE would often swap position with Foran and play at five eight. That’s possible. It’s possible. But consider this: taking the last season as a whole, I reckon that DCE was the most valuable in the comp – in any team – playing at half back for the Eagles. Would you mess with that?

      • November 22nd 2017 @ 9:07am
        bearfax said | November 22nd 2017 @ 9:07am | ! Report

        You’re on the money HY. Manly have the cap space according to certain insiders, they are just being careful of their pennies. These days they wont get into a shooting match paying overs especially with Tom T, Jake T. and DCE on their books as well as one or two potential stars on the rise to consider increasing their monies if they show what is expected of them.

    • November 22nd 2017 @ 7:44am
      Duncan Smith said | November 22nd 2017 @ 7:44am | ! Report

      The rabbits? Would make an interesting Souths-Easts derby next year heheh

    • November 22nd 2017 @ 9:18am
      souvalis said | November 22nd 2017 @ 9:18am | ! Report

      If I were in Barrett’s shoes I would’ve kept Green,an extremely significant cog in Manlys over achieving run to the finals this year..just don’t know if they can go further in ‘18 with Curtis and Frank as your starting backrow or if Kelly can lift his consistency…this is where the money is needed..doubt Pearce for Green alone will add that much to them…love to see him accept Browns cash and challenge of taking the Knights from spoon to semis…

      • November 22nd 2017 @ 11:13am
        Albo said | November 22nd 2017 @ 11:13am | ! Report

        I tend to agree souvalis ! The Manly halves combo last year were arguably one of the best in the NRL. Not sure the extra cash spent on securing Pearce might not be better spent on some forwards ? Although I think they might have already pinched a good one from the bunnies in Jack Gosiewski. I’m not sure what Pearce’s personal goals might be, but I totally agree with his decision to get out of Bondi after rejecting the “dumping to reserves” offer from the Roosters. Where he goes now will be determined by his goals. Does he a need to be in an established top 8 team in Sydney to share with established halves there ? Or does he go out of Sydney to run the ship and rebuilding programme at Newcastle ? If I was advising him, I would point out that he has won a premiership, he has played 20 State of Origins, he has just a few more years at his best level, so take the money and the new challenge at Newcastle where you will be the man to run that show. Where you will get plenty of local support and you can get out of the Sydney fish bowl. But I would have also warned him about puppies & social media !

      • November 22nd 2017 @ 11:14am
        Greg Ambrose said | November 22nd 2017 @ 11:14am | ! Report

        I’d much rather have Pearce than Green personally. Green was a good buy but is a very limited player in attack and an average defender. Manly have an almost faultless record in letting players go and Green will be part of that long list. Not every purchase has been so great but if Pearce jumps aboard I reckon he will thrive. Plenty of Eagles supporters put themselves in Barretts shoes a year or so back and declared that he was clueless so I’m sure he will back his own judgement again.

        Manly don’t need much to challenge for the title and just like in the Hasler era in the early days we are on track I believe.

    • November 22nd 2017 @ 10:18am
      Duncan Smith said | November 22nd 2017 @ 10:18am | ! Report

      The Roosters have gotten a bit stale with Pearce there so long. Cronk and Tedesco is a good injection of new blood. Probably good for Pearce to move on too, for his own career.

    • November 22nd 2017 @ 12:32pm
      Freddy from Bondi said | November 22nd 2017 @ 12:32pm | ! Report

      If losing Pearce, Guerra, Carter, Nikorima, Knight, Copley, SKD, Evans, Watson means signing Cronk, Tedesco and Crichton + upgrading Latrell Mitchell & Keary = I think the chooks management will still sleep well at night!

      • November 22nd 2017 @ 4:39pm
        Albo said | November 22nd 2017 @ 4:39pm | ! Report

        They’ve got Crichton ???

    • November 22nd 2017 @ 3:01pm
      Cathar Treize said | November 22nd 2017 @ 3:01pm | ! Report

      I think Pearce & Newcastle would be a good fit. Knights recruitment has been quite impressive so far.

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