Mitchell Pearce could be set to depart the Newcastle Knights with a monstrous pay cut hanging over the star’s head.
The star playmaker has been linked with a return to the Sydney Roosters in a conspiracy theory shared by rugby league legend Laurie Daley.
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Pearce’s four-year deal with the Knights expires at the end of 2021, but Daley says there are rumours suggesting the Roosters will make the dramatic change to bring Pearce back.
Talk surrounding Pearce’s contract and the pay cut he could be facing to finish his career at the Knights has only fuelled the speculation.
“I think there is some tough conversations going on among the Knights football department as to whether Mitchell Pearce is the right playmaker to take them forward or not,” James Hooper said on NRL 360.
“He is signed for next season and he is on a million dollars a season, so I find it hard to believe that Mitchell would want to move anywhere.
“But the people who design the roster are having a look at how they might be able to shake things up and shuffle things around.”
Pearce could become a Rooster.Source:Getty Images
Despite Hooper’s belief, Fox presenter Lara Pitt believes the noise could be coming from the Pearce camp as they’re unhappy with how negotiations have unfolded.
“My impression is that maybe it is coming from Pearce’s camp,” Pitt said.
“There was discussion that there was a two-year offer on the table from Newcastle and now that has been changed to a one-year contract extension, and perhaps Mitchell is disappointed with that.
“I spoke to the Knights and I get the impression they are going to have a delicate conversation over his future.
“He is on a million dollars and they are going to ask him to take a pay cut to $700,000 and then for 2023 – which they are interested in – and he would take a further pay cut to $600,000.
“For your captain and halfback looking at that sort of money at the tail-end of his career they want to sit face-to-face with him and have that discussion.
“I feel that he is maybe reassessing where he wants to be if Newcastle are not returning the love.”
A sticking point for Pearce is the lack of a number two playmaker in the halves, according to Pitt.
“I think he will be sitting down with them and looking at what they are doing with the No.6 jersey going forward,” Pitt said.
“He passionately mounted a case to the Knights to sign Kieran Foran. I think he wants a No.6 next to him that he feels he can work with.”
NRL 360 host Ben Ikin believes a playmaker alongside Pearce is key to unlocking the star’s true strengths.
“Mitch doesn’t like to do the heavy lifting in terms of the thinking for the side,” Ikin said.
“He struggles with it because he likes to play in the moment.
“When Blake Green did his knee all that responsibility that Blake Green had only taken (on) for two games was forced back on Mitchell Pearce until the end of the season and he just looked worn down.”
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