It's been a long, hard road for the nib Newcastle Knights, since the loss of their captain.
Newcastle have managed only two from nine wins after key playmaker Mitchell Pearce suffered a lengthy injury in Round 7.
Head coach Nathan Brown openly admits it hasn't been rosy.
The loss of his Knights front man, a setback they weren't prepared for.
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"We haven't really coped with the loss of Mitchell great, to be honest," Brown said.
"We had a couple of wins along the way and a few key moments in games where we would've liked to have done better and with someone of Mitch's experience, we probably would've done."
The 29-year-old has painstakingly sat watching from the sidelines for 12 weeks after he torn his pectoral muscle in the Knights clash against the Wests Tigers in Tamworth.
It has meant young talent has had to set up in his place, but Pearce's ability to steer the ship has noticeably been missed.
"The two biggest things he brings with his experience is his talk and kicking game. That's an area we've really struggled without," cited Brown.
"They're two areas where he's going to have a really good impact.
"When you lose a player in a key position like that, it can affect a lot of people around them.
"From a Club point of view, we need to look at our recruitment and look at certain aspects of our game so if we do loose Mitchell again, we can cope a lot better."
But the time has finally come to see the handy halfback return to the paddock.
Pearce will make his highly anticipated comeback this Friday against the Parramatta Eels.
He'll reconnect with halves partner Connor Watson, in what's hoped to be the combination which will start getting the Knights some more wins on the board.
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The Knights coach is undoubtedly looking forward to their reunion.
"Pearcey coming back to work with Connor is going to be really good for Connor as well as the rest of the team," he said.
"Pearcey's dominance helps Connor's style of play. His kicking game obviously takes a bit of pressure off Connor as well.
"We're very comfortable with what Connor's brought to the Club in the short term, but we'd like to see him get to play with Mitchell and see if that combination is the best combination."
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