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Knights confirm Pearce wants immediate release

Newcastle have confirmed veteran playmaker Mitchell Pearce has requested an immediate release from the final year of his NRL contract. 

Pearce met with Knights management on Wednesday where the request was outlined and officially lodged for the club to consider his release. 

The Knights said in a statement on Wednesday afternoon discussions between Pearce and the club "remain productive" with both parties hopeful of a positive outcome. 

The 32-year-old agreed to a one-year extension with the Knights in March but the former NSW representative has been linked with a move to Super League club Catalan Dragons in recent weeks following James Maloney's retirement.

The Knights said that "no specific timeline has been determined on an outcome", with Pearce currently on annual leave.

 

Best finishes: Ponga comes up big for Newcastle

The former NSW Origin halfback played 12 matches this year after spending a lengthy stint on the sidelines with a pectoral muscle injury and helped the Knights to the finals. 

Should Pearce leave, Newcastle has Jake Clifford, Adam Clune and Phoenix Crossland vying for playmaking roles next season, while Kalyn Ponga or Kurt Mann may be other options.

Pearce, who played alongside Maloney in the Sydney Roosters 2013 premiership-winning team, joined the Knights in 2018 and his form the following season earned the halfback six consecutive man-of-the-match awards and an Origin recall.

He played 19 Origins for NSW between 2008 and 2019 and became the youngest player to play 200 NRL matches in 2015. Pearce played his 300th match earlier this season.

Newcastle will return to pre-season training in mid-November after exiting week one of the finals in 2021.

The Knights earlier this week announced the appointment of club great Andrew Johns in a newly created coaching consultant role.

Johns played 249 games for Newcastle and steered the club to two premierships in 1997 and 2001 among a long list of achievements to his name in a record-breaking playing career.

The eighth Immortal will take up the new role from next month.