MANLY is reportedly ready to pounce on Mitchell Pearce if the star halfback decides to walk out on the Roosters, but Newcastle will fight for his signature.
NRL.com has reported the Sea Eagles are in discussions with Pearce as he weighs up his options if Cooper Cronk signs a two-year deal at Bondi, as expected.
And Knights coach Nathan Brown told the Newcastle Herald he is prepared to sit down with Pearce if he was to come on the market.
“Mitchell Pearce is the current NSW halfback and he’s an outstanding player,” Brown said.
“I think if he was to become available, we’d be silly as a club not to at least entertain the thought of trying to sit down and have a talk with him.
“We’ve made quite clear our desire to bring in an experienced half to work with Brock (Lamb) and Connor (Watson) and Kalyn (Ponga), and Mitchell Pearce is a player who certainly has had a very, very good career.
“He’d certainly be a player, who if he became available, we’d be mad not to try and have a conversation with him.”
Cronk’s arrival would likely push Pearce out of his No.7 jumper and either into the five-eighth or hooker position.
He has two years to run on his current contract.
The 28-year-old could sensationally quit his contract and join an NRL rival if the mooted move takes place.
The report also claims Manly has agreed to release Blake Green to the Warriors if they can secure Pearce.
Pearce would slot into the No.6 jumper at Manly and partner Daly Cherry-Evans in the halves.
Cronk’s deal is yet to be confirmed but the Roosters are said to be the only club left in the running for his signature.
The Eels, Sharks, and Rabbitohs have all pulled out, leaving the Chooks to secure the Australian and Queensland halfback.
It would be a cruel blow for Pearce, who has played all 238 of his NRL games at the club.
He led the Chooks to the premiership in 2013 and this year formed a new combination with recruit Luke Keary which thrived.
He’s been maligned as a representative player, having copped plenty of flak over NSW’s dire Origin record over the past decade.