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Pearce excited to come up against former club

At Captain’s Run on Saturday halfback Mitchell Pearce expressed his excitement at getting down to Sydney this weekend to take on his old club the Sydney Roosters.

“It’s exciting for all the Roosters boys, but really looking forward to hopefully improving on what we produced in the first two weeks,” Pearce smiled.

“It’s probably going to be funny when I rock up and see all the old faces, I was there for 12 years but I’ve been loving the move.

“It has been such a great change, I’m a Newcastle Knight now so looking forward to taking on the Roosters.”

Pearce will come up against opposing number Cooper Cronk and knows he’ll be a key man in the Roosters' game.

“Cooper Cronk has got nothing to prove on his end, he’s one of the greatest halfbacks in the modern era and probably of all time, and I’ve got nothing but upmost respect for Cooper,” Pearce commented.

“Everyone knows what a good player he is and more importantly as a team we’ve got to stop him.

“They’ve got a great team, they’re premiership favourites and rightly so.

“It’s a good test for the young emerging team that we are and we’ll see where we’re at.”

With the Knights debuting nine new players in Round 1, Pearce admits it’s been a great start to the season for a team who have only just come together.

“Especially in attack there’s been some really good footy and that doesn’t normally seem to happen when you come into a new team,” he said.

“We’ve been pretty happy with our attack, but there’s plenty of areas of improvement in defence and some ill-discipline with penalties that we need to improve big time.

“ I feel the systems Browny (Nathan Brown) has put in place are allowing us to play our best footy which suits every individual and we saw that last week… but footy is about backing it up and we’ve got to play well again this week.”

One youngster Pearce has continually been impressed with is 19-year-old Kalyn Ponga in the fullback role.

The experienced halfback admits he’s an easy player to play alongside.

“I just try and give him a bit of space and he does everything else, an absolute superstar of the future and I think the biggest thing we’ve been impressed with is how tough he is playing defensively,” Pearce added.

“We know if he can keep playing like that with the ball, that will be the key.”

While the Knights already have two wins from two games this season, Pearce believes the Roosters will again be another step up.

“The Roosters are premiership favourites for a reason, they’ve got an established pack, the spine has played a lot of footy, they’re a pack that has played a lot of international footy and they’re a team that has been together for a long time,” he explained.

“I know how professional and well coached they are from being there, so it’s a great test for us early in the season."

The Knights take on the Roosters at Allianz Stadium on Sunday night, kick-off at 6.30pm.