Knights in cap position to go for Pearce

Oct 26, 2017 - 5:46 AM Newcastle coach Nathan Brown says the Knights won't need to clear the decks to try to lure Mitchell Pearce to the NRL club if he becomes available for next season.

Brown has already signalled his interest in approaching the NSW halfback if he requests a release from the Sydney Roosters, as a direct fallout from the Cooper Cronk contract race.

An angry Pearce reportedly told coach Trent Robinson this week that he wants to explore options elsewhere, saying he was frustrated that the Roosters would consider signing his rival State of Origin halfback.

Manly have also been linked to Pearce if he becomes available, but Brown said the Knights were already in a position to make a play given their salary cap position.

"We don't have to move anyone anywhere," Brown told AAP.

"We're certainly in a good position in that if the right people come up we can recruit them.

"We've got five or six spots in our roster. We don't need to have any tough conversations with anyone."

Pearce's signing would create an embarrassment of riches in the halves for Newcastle.

The Knights told young recruit Connor Watson they wanted to make a home for him at No.6 when they signed him, while Brock Lamb has impressed at halfback.

Trent Hodkinson is also off-contract at the end of 2018, and had to spend part of last season in reserve grade.

However Brown said regardless of what happened with their roster, he saw no reason why the ex-NSW playmaker should have to leave the club.

"I've had a good honest conversation with Hodko, and Hodko just like everyone else knows where he stands," Brown said.

"He'll be in there fighting with the young halves. Obviously we've got a lot of hope for Connor Watson and Brock is developing nicely as well."

Having lost big-money players Jarrod Mullen and Dane Gagai, the Knights made a decision to leave space in their salary cap for want-away players during the off-season.

They have watched each of the Cronk, James Maloney and Matt Moylan contract situations with interest, ready to pounce on any players churned out by the play-making merry-go-round.

"But players have got to want to come here as well," Brown said.

"It's one thing saying that we're interested in player X, but the players have got to want to have a desire to come to Newcastle and want to play for the town and the team.

"There is a lot of water to go under the bridge with the Mitchell situation."

Brown said the Knights' interest only extended as far as Pearce at the Roosters, and that he wouldn't make a play for hooker Jake Friend if he became available as part of a spine reshuffle.

Source: AAP

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