When injury in rugby league brings heartbreak for one player, it inevitably brings with it opportunity for another.
That’s the case for Newcastle Knight Will Pearsall who has been named at five-eighth after Club veteran Jarrod Mullen was struck with a hamstring injury while making a break in Monday’s match against the Manly Sea Eagles.
While conclusive results on Mullen’s injury are due on Friday, it’s expected he’ll be sidelined for several weeks making space in the halves for a player like Pearsall to stake a claim.
“There’s a really good opportunity and definitely one I want to take,” he said on Wednesday.
“I would love to be a cemented first grader but we’ll have to see how it goes.
“It will be a good opportunity to start off with.”
Though a definitive decision on his place within the team on Saturday is still up in the air, the 21-year-old considers it crucial to be mentally prepared the Round 9 clash.
“I will just prepare like it’s another game,” he said.
“I’m named at six so I’m going to prepare like I’m going to play at six.
“Whatever Browny (coach Nathan Brown) wants to do, I’ll prepare the best I can to play the Roosters.
“I have grown up playing at six for the last 10 years or so and throughout the 20s as well.
“It’s definitely my preferred position.”
While most comfortable with the number six on his back, in efforts to mould himself into a more adaptable player he’s started training at hooker.
“I have never really played hooker prior to coming here and it’s been about getting to dummy half and passing the ball, so there’s a lot more technical stuff that you get to learn from,” he said.
Learning the trade from former Australian test hooker Danny Buderus has been a certain highlight for the Entrance Tigers junior.
“He’s one of the best hookers to play the game, you can’t learn from anyone better.”
Pearsall, who played his maiden first grade game in Round 6, aims to maintain a level head approaching a Sydney Roosters team boosted by the return of experienced halfback, Mitchell Pearce.
“You want to play against the best to see where you’re at. He’s a really good player, has played at the top level and has played Origin,” he said.
“There is no one really better to challenge yourself against.”
Pearsall doesn’t expect Pearce’s time away from the game to impact him negatively on the field.
“Not at all, he would have been training the whole time he’s had off,” he said.
“He’s a professional and has played so many NRL games and has played at the top level for a long time.
“I expect him to hit his straps as soon as he gets out there.”