Pearce cleared for long-awaited return
Nathan Brown has confirmed the newsKnights fans have been waiting to hear - Mitchell Pearce will make his return from injury this Friday night against Parramatta.
It could not have come soon enough, with the club winning two games - against Manly and the Eels - since he tore a pectoral muscle in round seven, in April.
"We haven't coped with the loss of Mitchell great, to be honest with you," the coach said.
"We have won a couple of games, and there have been a few key moments where we would have liked to have done better and with someone of Mitch's experience, we probably would have done.
"The two biggest things he brings, apart from experience, is his talk and ability to drive his teammates, and his kicking game is as good as any - and that's an area we have sort of struggled.
"When you do lose a player in a key position like that, it can affect a lot of people around him."
Pearce has completed two weeks of full training, giving Brown the confidence the co-captain can handle a return to the NRL to strengthen his partnership with Connor Watson.
Winger Shaun Kenny-Dowall says while Pearce will be a welcome boost to the team, they will not be relying too heavily on the star halfback.
"We have built a pretty good foundation since he has been gone," Kenny-Dowall said.
"We have been pretty competitive, but it's just to add those final touches and experience that he has will be good for the team."
The Knights have met the Eels twice in 2018, with Parramatta winning the pre-season trial, but SKD believes the Newcastle team put in a near 80-minute flawless performance in the round-13 victory.
"We'll just take it one game at a time, like the old cliche, but that's what we are doing, thinking about the process not the outcome," Kenny-Dowall said.
"We'll start this week when we get Mitchell back, and we thought we played one of our best games against Parramatta a few weeks ago.
"So we know what we are capable of, and we want to put it together on Friday night."
The Knights' other injury concern is Maroons debutant Kalyn Ponga, who Brown has revealed could be an outside chance of returning against Gold Coast in a fortnight.
Daniel Saifiti will also return against the Eels, to further strengthen the pack.