Why Mitchell Pearce was allowed to join Catalans Dragons and how Newcastle Knights missed out on replacement

Going in 2022, one of the biggest signings of the year was of course the arrival of former NRL star Mitchell Pearce.

He joined Catalans Dragons from Newcastle Knights replacing his former Sydney teammate James Maloney at the club hoping to maintain their great form which had taken the Dragons to the top of the league and the Grand Final last year.

Pearce won the NRL alongside Maloney at Sydney in 2013 as the Roosters finished top for three seasons in a row. He also won State of Origin and is an Australian international.

However, largely down to a number of absentees in Catalans’ side this season, Pearce has failed to maintain the form of the Dragons with the side slipping to fourth and being knocked out of the play-offs by Leeds last week. However, Pearce has still been very effective especially in attack with 10 tries.

Thus, he still has to be considered a big signing and has been a big loss to Newcastle Knights in 2022 as they slumped to 14th in the league.

Speaking on the The Tooheys News podcast Newcastle boss Adam O’Brien admitted that it was a loss “that affected” the Knights “greatly” in 2022 as he admitted why he was allowed to leave

“He looked to have needed a change and he expressed that to me and it would have been really hard to, I often think we’ll treat him how I would want – if he was my son – would want to be treated,” O’Brien said.

“I think he earned the right to express his honest opinion on where he thought he was at physically and mentally.

“I was hopeful at the time that we may have landed a replacement, we certainly signed some guys in for depth that ended up playing, what we would’ve thought would have been half a dozen games, ended up playing the season, which will be great for them in their long term development.

“It certainly hurt the club there’s no doubt, losing Mitchell and not having replaced him.”

He also revealed how the club missed out on signing a replacement in Wests Tigers’ Luke Brooks.

“Look there was certainly some noise around Luke wanting to join the club,” O’Brien said.

“The Tigers took a different road and wanted to keep Luke there which is totally their prerogative, he had a contract there.

“Had we landed him then maybe we would’ve had a different season, it’s hard to lump it on one young guy.”

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