A major reason as to why the Newcastle Knights missed the top 8 in 2019 was an over reliance on Mitchell Pearce.
Yes, he is the captain and halfback of the side but there comes a point where the reliance is just too much.
In 2019, Mitchell Pearce’s form has correlated with his side’s form, as when the halfback was playing well his teammates would rise to his level and deliver, when Pearce was out of form his teammates would’ve the metaphorical white flag and just not put in an adequate effort.
Now this may be understandable if we’re talking about a reserve grade side, but we’re talking about the Newcastle Knights, a team with multiple representative players.
It seems these same players and the rest of the squad have relied on Mitchell Pearce’s individual brilliance every game over their own talent.
Now this may be understandable if we’re talking about Cameron Smith or Cooper Cronk, two of the most consistent players of all time, however we are talking about Mitchell Pearce, and with all due respect to Pearce he has proven, especially in 2019, that whilst he can play at a very high level for periods of time, he can not keep it up for a whole season.
When Pearce does have games where he’s out of form, it’s up to the certain players to step up, the likes of Kalyn Ponga or Connor Watson need to take control of the side in attack and inspire the team to keep up the effort when Pearce has a bad game, and players like David Klemmer need to display leadership in defence.
The Knights have too many high quality players to just purely rely on one player to win the game for them every week.