It’s no secret the coveted five-eighth role is the most hotly contested position on the nib Newcastle Knights roster.
Mason Lino, Phoenix Crossland, Kurt Mann, Connor Watson and Simi Sasagi are all among the contenders to partner Mitchell Pearce in the halves next season.
Pearce himself admits he’s keen to add stability in the halves next season.
“There’s no secret that swapping and changing in the spine doesn’t help anyone, it probably breeds inconsistency,” Pearce said.
WATCH: Crossland and Pearce on pairing and pre-season
“It’s a big part of the cog and Adam’s a high-end coach and he has his ideas there.
“At the moment there’s plenty of boys pushing hard to get into that position, I couldn’t tell you who’s in the front line at the moment, it’s not my job to worry about that.”
Head Coach Adam O’Brien has publicly ruled out going to market for a five-eighth, instead sending the challenge out to the current contenders to make his mind up for him.
Pearce has no doubt somebody will rise to the challenge over the course of the gruelling pre-season.
“There’s no doubt come the season, I’m sure there’ll be consistency in those positions and the coach will be backing someone in those positions to get the job done week in, week out.”
Young half Phoenix Crossland has already impressed during the opening weeks, and the 19-year-old admits he’s keen to push his claim for a regular position in the top grade.
“I think it’s pretty well documented that No.6 is available for anyone who wats to grab it with both hands,” Crossland said.
“I haven’t sat down with anyone and spoken about it, it’s only week two, but I think he’s (O’Brien) just looking for anyone who’s out there giving it a good hard crack at the moment.
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“It’s good to know there’s an opportunity there for me but there’s still a lot of work to be done before I really try and grab that No.6.”
The young gun has already gained a fan base which includes both his coach and his captain in Pearce.
“I love Phoenix, he’s a great kid,” Pearce said.
“He lives and breathes footy, and if there’s one thing he doesn’t lack it’s a desire to be the best he can be.
“He wants to be rugby league player, and he debuted last year at a young age, so he’s already achieved a massive feat.”
Crossland knows Pearce is the player to impress if he wants to slot in alongside him.
His Grand Final and State of Origin experience makes his rugby league brain an enticing one to get a glimpse into.
“I sort of annoy him a lot with questions,” Crossland laughed.
“He’s a legend though, he knows I’m young and he was my age as well, learning off some greats.
“He’s sweet, I’ll be picking his brain as much as I can.”