With over a dozen seasons of NRL tucked into his football shorts, Knights halfback Mitchell Pearce says he's ready to embrace being a club captain once again all on his own.
The 29-year-old finished his debut season with Newcastle being a solo captain from round 18 onwards until the end of the 2018 Telstra Premiership season. The Knights finished 11th on the NRL ladder, which was a leap of five places from the wooden spoon position in 2017.
But Pearce's undoubted leadership skills, as well as being the centre-of-attention at No.7, were on display in his truncated season where he missed 10 games with a torn pectoral muscle.
While he was in rehab, the Knights had a win-loss record of 2-7 without him. When he returned the Knights' attack flowed far better and their defence was more in tune with what was needed.
It brings a compelling argument that Pearce should take on the captaincy by himself – a job he held at the Roosters throughout 2015 and for the last nine games of the 2017 season before he made the switch to the Knights, due to the arrival of then Test halfback Cooper Cronk.
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On Tuesday after the Knights completed their training session, second day back from the Christmas break, Pearce said he was ready to lead again.
"I definitely want it. I definitely enjoy it and I loved the co-captaincy last year," he said.
"I was captain of the Roosters there for a bit. But I was younger then and I feel at this point of my life, with what we're really building here at the moment, I'm enjoying that leadership role.
"We'll see what direction Brownie [coach Nathan Brown] goes with the leadership stuff. We'll have meetings of the next few weeks so it all keeps evolving.
"But I'm really enjoying my role here as a leader."
Brown says he's not finalised who he wants in his head just yet.
"I've still got some combos out there [to look at] and a few decisions to make, so I haven't spoken to all the required people on what we think might be the best."
That means Brown is still tossing up whether to split the role between two or three players – which has been the case for the past three years at the Knights – or go with a solo captain for the first time since 2015, when Kurt Gidley reigned supreme.
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"We're not sure there yet. Obviously Pearce did a great job last year and so did JB [Jamie Buhrer]," Brown said.
"They've got different attributes and a great connection with the group they've been working with. Then we've got players coming in like Tim Glasby and Klem [David Klemmer] as well. So there's plenty of things to talk about."
Brown expects to make the decision within the next three weeks. NRL.com understands the announcement will be made at the club's season launch, ahead of two trial games against the Dragons (February 23) and the Sharks (March 2).
It's also understood Pearce is the clear front-runner to be given the captaincy on his own.