NRL Fantasy player watch: Mitchell Pearce
Mitchell Pearce, HLF, $824,000
NSW halfback Mitchell Pearce brings genuine star power to the Newcastle Knights. After signing a four-year deal with the club, he arrives as one of the elite halves in NRL Fantasy.
Scoring potential: 5/5
He's had his critics in the past but Pearce is one of the busiest playmakers in rugby league, getting through a good share of defence while also running the ball when he can and having a dominant long-range kicking game. With 56 points a game, Pearce ranked second to Shaun Johnson among NRL Fantasy halves in 2017. He has improved his Fantasy scoring every year since 2013.
He ranked second in the NRL for kick metres last year and could actually improve in that regard if he's paired in the halves with fellow Knights signing Connor Watson, who did barely any kicking in general play at the Roosters last season.
Alternatively, Pearce's numbers could fall if he plays alongside another strong long-range kicker in Brock Lamb. Pearce's assist numbers (first in the NRL in line-break assists) could dip at the Knights but on the other hand his defensive output (23 tackles a game) could increase.
With just one score below 40 in 2017 and eight scores above 55, Pearce is just about as reliable as it gets. The one question mark will be whether he can maintain his performances at a brand new club, one that will be working on new combinations across the park in 2018.
Let's face it, Pearce doesn't come cheap. But to get the best in the business you've sometimes got to splash the cash, and there is some room for improvement if the No.7 can improve upon his defensive workload and kicking game. But if you're outlaying more than $800,000 on a player in Fantasy you're buying a keeper, not a moneymaker, so getting great value is less of a priority.