An NRL 360 host has revealed veteran halfback Mitchell Pearce was rumoured to have suffered a pre-season injury in a street fight.
Rugby league journalist Paul Kent has revealed Newcastle Knights halfback Mitchell Pearce was rumoured to have suffered his pre-season injury in a street fight.
Earlier this year, the Knights confirmed Pearce had suffered a thumb injury in a training session and was required to undergo surgery.
In another twist to Pearce’s chaotic off-season, Kent has divulged on Fox League’s NRL 360 there had been speculation the veteran halfback was embroiled in a street brawl.
“There was a rumour that the broken thumb that he suffered at training came from a street fight,” Kent said on Tuesday evening.
“I asked (Newcastle coach) Adam O’Brien about that some weeks back whether it was true or not. He categorically denied it, he said it happened in a tackling drill so you accept that.”
Earlier on Tuesday, the Knights confirmed Pearce had earned a one-year contract extension, the deal reportedly coming with a six-figure pay cut.
But one of O’Brien’s comments about Pearce left the NRL 360 panel scratching their heads: “He has never been violent … Yes, he has hurt people close to him but he’s never had to front up for being violent.”
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Kent theorised: “I thought it was a pre-emptive comment in respect to that (street fight) in case somebody wanted to dig around.”
However, fellow panellist Paul Crawley was unimpressed with O’Brien’s strange remarks, bluntly calling it an “absurd comment”.
“I know he’s trying to protect his player, but you sacked him as captain. You made that call, you made a decision,” Crawley said on NRL 360.
“He let the team down so you’ve taken the captaincy off him, and now you’re saying the critics are coming for him.”
Newcastle will face the Canterbury Bulldogs on Friday evening at McDonald Jones Stadium for their season opener.
The Knights confirmed their starting 13 on Tuesday afternoon, with Pearce named to play in the halves.
Pearce spoke to reporters about his contract extension on Tuesday: “There’s been a lot of talk, but I never wanted to go anywhere else.
“Since coming up here, I’ve been striving hard to achieve what we want to achieve.
“I see myself as a Knight now and I really want to get the job done with the club and the boys up here.
“I’m really grateful for the trust from the club and excited for what’s ahead.”