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Pearce, Brown back Knights' off-field crackdown

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8th January, 2019
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Mitchell Pearce says Newcastle’s tough new stance on poor behaviour is fair and necessary as the NRL club’s rebuild continues.

The Knights have drawn a line in the sand for 2019 by fining young prop Jacob Saifiti $50,000 – $25,000 of which will be suspended – after he was knocked unconscious and broke his leg outside a pub last month.

That is equivalent to 25 per cent of Saifiti’s salary, with club boss Phil Gardner describing it as a clear message that poor off-field behaviour won’t be tolerated.

Pearce is tipped to act as sole captain under coach Nathan Brown this season after impressing in shared duties with Jamie Buhrer in his arrival at the club in 2018.

The 29-year-old has attracted his share of controversy in the past, forced to attend a Thailand rehabilitation clinic following his infamous drunken Australia Day antics nearly three years ago.

A premiership winner and captain with the Sydney Roosters, he has since relished the move north to a rebuilding club.

“I definitely want it. I definitely enjoy it and I loved the co-captaincy last year,” Pearce said.

“I was captain of the Roosters, but I was younger then and I feel at this point of my life, with what we’re really building here at the moment, I’m enjoying that leadership role.”

And he has no qualms with the club’s tough stance on poor behaviour.

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“There’s a lot of pressure on players and high profile people, but it comes with the territory and there’s a lot of perks in rugby league now,” he said.

“There’s a reputation we have to live up to … we’ve got to keep developing into a really professional outfit to evolve on and off the field.”

A hooker for St George in the 1990s, Brown has seen the game change before his eyes and hopes the message has been received loud and clear.

“Rugby league’s probably changed a lot since I played, things were acceptable in the 80s, the 90s were a little harder,” Brown said.

“As long as you have a lot of young people at any sort of work and alcohol can lead to the odd (bit of) trouble.

“You treat it on its merits but hopefully with the stance that’s been taken we can eliminate a lot of that.”