Interview: Mitchell Pearce on trial
It was his first hit out as an nib Newcastle Knight and Mitchell Pearce didn’t disappoint, creating some sharp plays with his new teammates.
The 28-year-old combined early with back rower Lachlan Fitzgibbon to record the side’s first try of the afternoon, and shortly after the quarter break nudged a perfect grubber through to Kalyn Ponga who made it number two.
“It was nice to line up a couple,” Pearce told Knights TV when the team returned to Newcastle.
“I felt sharp, I felt fit… that was the biggest thing.
“You practice a lot of these things in the pre-season, and you do it to feel good in a game.
“I felt good physically in the game and I was happy with the way I played.”
A gruelling 37 degree day didn’t even slow down the halfback.
“The weather was tough, but we’ve been training in that sort of heat everyday so that prepared us,” Pearce explained.
“We might get some of those warm weather games at the start of the year.
“I was definitely blowing after about 20 minutes and it would have been hard for the forwards.”
I felt sharp, I felt fit… that was the biggest thing.Mitchell Pearce Halfback
Overall Pearce rated the first trial match a good performance.
“It was a trial game with lots of players in and out but personally I was happy with the way we ran out,” added Pearce.
“I felt like a lot of the stuff we worked on in the pre-season was pretty effective for us.
“The belief and trust in what we’ve been working on, it’s a good first step and it’s been great for our first game.”
The experienced halfback had praise for former Roosters teammate Connor Watson as well.
“With Connor it felt really smooth, really clinical,” Pearce maintained.
“There were a lot of penalties given away for new rules, a pretty-stop start kind of game, but when we got opportunities I thought Connor was one of the better players in both halves.
“He was really dangerous as well and Kalyn (Ponga) was impressive too... but that’s our job to run the attack.
“No one remembers the trial games, but I think as a Club, this was a good step and we’ve got to take it up a notch in our final trial against Parramatta (Eels).”
However, Pearce would like to see a few things cleaned up before the Eels match in just over two weeks' time.
“There’s still a lot of lapses; penalties and discipline,” he admitted.
“A few tries got let in, so our defence is the biggest thing we need to build to start the season.
“Browny (Nathan Brown) will be pushing for us to improve that side of things, tighten up in attack.
“We’ve obviously got a long way to go, there’s plenty of improvement in all areas to come but defensively we should keep building to start the year strong.”