Knights' woes no barrier for Pearce: Hagan

Dec 20, 2017 - 2:28 AM Mitchell Pearce will prove at Newcastle he's an elite NRL player without the luxury of a star-studded team, according to Michael Hagan.

Pearce joined the wooden-spooners rather than Manly or Cronulla, ending a successful 11-year stint at the Sydney Roosters last month upon the arrival of superstar halfback Cooper Cronk.

Hagan, who coached Newcastle to the 2001 premiership, believes how well NSW halfback Pearce guides the youthful side could be career-defining.

Pearce will play alongside young-gun backs Kalyn Ponga and Connor Watson, who joined the Knights in the off-season.

"I see him being a really good leader for the Knights," Hagan told AAP.

"It's an opportunity to establish himself with a team that hasn't been as dominant and high-profile as he's been in for a number of years.

"I think it can be a really telling point in his career thus far."

Knights coach Nathan Brown has talked up their chances of reaching the finals next year for the first time since 2013.

But speaking at the Jack Newton Celebrity Classic, Hagan was more reserved.

"Mitchell Pearce probably brings a bit of expectation," he said.

"But they still have got a fair bit of work to do. There's so little separating team eight and team 16.

"I think the top 5-6 teams are still a fair way ahead of those teams."

Source: AAP

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