In a game that’s often accused of giving second (and third, fourth, fifth…) chances to the wrong people, it warms my cold, cynical heart to see Jarrod Mullen back playing rugby league.
Mitchell Pearce’s decision to step down as Newcastle captain won’t alter coach Adam O’Brien’s plans to create a leadership group at the NRL club.
O’Brien says he was already planning to shake up the club’s leadership before Pearce announced on Wednesday he would relinquish his captaincy in the wake of a text-messaging scandal.
A teary-eyed Pearce told media on Thursday he was focusing on being the “best man I can be both on and off the field” as he spoke publicly for the first time since his wedding to fiancee Kristen Scott was called off last month.
It’s unclear who will replace Pearce, with O’Brien revealing he was reviewing his team’s leadership structure even before the scandal involving his halfback emerged.
“I’ve had a model in mind for six months,” he said.
“I’ve been really fortunate in the career that I’ve had to work with two pretty special leadership groups for example at the Storm and the Roosters and this would be, I guess, a hybrid model of both of those clubs. The ones that I think are most effective for our club.
“Whether that be co-captains; whether it is a stand-alone captain, with some lieutenants; we’re not there yet.
“I’m not going to allow this situation to speed up a process that I feel is the most effective for us. That will take place over the next month.”
O’Brien was hopeful Pearce’s decision to step down from the captaincy would ease the pressure on the 31-year-old former NSW State of Origin star and was confident the halfback still had a significant role to play for the Knights in 2021.
“Mitchell Pearce’s best football is a huge asset to this club,” he said.
“That doesn’t go lightly with his teammates, they’ve expressed that, they want to see Mitchell out there playing his best football.
“He’s got some matters that he wants to address, first and foremost, with his close family and his partner.
“He needs to address those and he’s working hard every single day at doing that.”