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Mitchell Pearce has been granted his release from his final year with the Newcastle Knights to finish his career over in France with the Catalan Dragons.
After 11 seasons and 238 games with the Sydney Roosters, Pearce came to Newcastle to join a team in a rebuilding phase much different to the winning culture he had known.
He was signed to a four-year deal under Nathan Brown and was named co-captain. On his Knights debut, he kicked a close-range golden-point field goal against Newcastle’s arch rivals Manly to take the win 19-18.
To begin the 2019 season, Mitchell Pearce was named as the Knights’ sole captain.
After a close win against Cronulla due to Edrick Lee’s intercept to begin the season, Newcastle lost their next five. In Round 7, Newcastle were coming off a massive loss to Gold Coast.
They hosted Parramatta, who came off the back of a 51-6 win against the Wests Tigers. They had a point to prove and they did that with a convincing 28-14 over Parramatta.
Newcastle went on to win six in a row and Mitchell Pearce played the best he ever did to the point he got recalled into State of Origin to replace the injured Nathan Cleary in the decider.
With the score locked up at 20 points apiece, Pearce threw a risky pass to Tom Trbojevic and that pass led to James Tedesco scoring the match winner in the final minute.
With all NSW fans awaiting the Bunker to make the call, if the stadium had a roof, it would have blown off the place the moment the try was awarded for NSW.
The Blues won their first decider in 14 years and back-to-back series and Mitchell Pearce finally conquered that State of Origin demon that has haunted him for most of his career.
Unfortunately, Newcastle were unable to make the finals in 2019. I would love to bring his in his sole win for his new team against his former club.
Newcastle convincingly beat them 38-12. He scored a try before the break to kiss his emblem. The Newcastle fans aren’t ever forgetting that.
In 2020, Newcastle started off 2-0 until the season was disrupted. After a two and a half month hiatus, the season resumed and despite enough injuries to fill a hospital ward, Newcastle finally broke that finals drought.
It was the year Mitchell Pearce had to prove he could get the Knights in the finals and he did just that. Sadly, in their finals match against South Sydney, Newcastle surrendered an early 14-0 lead to lose 46-20.
Before his final season of his contract kicked off, Mitchell Pearce signed a reduced one-year contract for 2022 to play an extra year in Newcastle.
After recovering from a torn pectoral in Round 4, Mitchell Pearce returned in Round 15 to help Newcastle seal a tight thriller 10-6 against the Warriors in front of their home fans.
The following week, Newcastle won back-to-back matches in front of their home fans 38-0 against North Queensland.
Unfortunately, this would be the last game the Hunter Valley residents would see their team play at Marathon.
With the season now being taken to Queensland, Newcastle lost their first two relocated games to Melbourne and the Roosters.
Winning against Canberra to keep their season alive, Mitchell Pearce returned from an ankle injury to win his next four games for the Knights, taking their tally to five on the trot.
In his final win for Newcastle against Gold Coast, he scored a try, kicked a brilliant 40/20 and kicked the match-winning field goal in the final minute.
This win sealed the Knights in back-to-back finals. In his first and final win for the Knights, he kicked the winning field goal.
With a final-round loss to Brisbane, Newcastle sealed seventh in back-to-back years and faced off against Parramatta in the first week of the finals.
The Knights fell short to the Eels, losing 28-20 and bowing out in the opening week of the finals in back-to-back seasons.
As skipper, Mitchell Pearce captained the Knights 59 times for 28 wins and as a Knights player overall, he played 71 games with the following record: 36 wins, 34 losses, one draw, 15 tries, five field goals, and one hell of an experience playing in the team.
His input to his team helped to finalise the rebuilding phase and for that I am grateful.
He may not have won a premiership in Knights colours but his input to the team will forever be known to all fans.
What he brought to the team will set up the club in the long run. Mitchell Pearce, on behalf of Knights fans, thank you very much and farewell.