Mitchell Pearce will reportedly relinquish the captaincy of the Newcastle Knights as the fallout from the NRL star’s texting scandal continues.
The 31-year-old called off his wedding to fiancee Kristin Scott late in December after it was reported that he had been caught sending ‘flirty’ messages to a female member of the Knights’ staff.
Pearce has denied that this was the reason why the wedding was postponed, citing the coronavirus as cause for the delay.
However, both the Daily Telegraph and Sydney Morning Herald have reported it was due to his messages with the staff member.
The situation has reportedly led to some tension within the Newcastle playing group, with the club issuing a statement on Wednesday confirming that Pearce would step down from the captaincy.
“Earlier this week, Pearce met with Head Coach Adam O’Brien, CEO Philip Gardner and General Manager of Football Danny Buderus, to address recent events and to apologise for the distraction and inconvenience they have caused during the Christmas leave period,” the statement read.
“Immediately following this meeting, Pearce met with his teammates and football department staff, to advise the group of his decision to relinquish the captaincy.
“Pearce’s decision followed a lengthy review of current issues, last season’s performance and reflection upon the added pressure the captaincy brings to both his on field performance and personal life.
“The club is fully supportive of his decision.
— Newcastle Knights (@NRLKnights) January 6, 2021
“The Knights will continue work to develop a new club leadership model, with a decision on new club leaders – including who will ultimately perform the role of captain – yet to be made.
“The Newcastle Knights are committed to respecting the privacy of their employees, including any discussion of private matters in the public domain. At the conclusion of tomorrow’s media opportunity, no further comment will be made on this matter.”
Newcastle navigating complicated Mitchell Pearce situation
The situation is made even more complicated with Knights second-rower Lachlan Fitzgibbon a close friend of the partner of the staff member who exchanged texts with Pearce.
On day one of the 2021 pre-season, general manager of football Danny Buderus said Pearce's conduct was unacceptable and confirmed the leadership of the team was under review.
"At this stage for several months we've been addressing and looking at our leadership model within the club," Buderus said on Monday.
"Adam O'Brien is a big believer of strong leadership, group leadership, and we really need to hone down into that and work it out and we're still to finalise those decisions into which way we're going to go.
"We're going to take our time and roll it out.
"We have got some good candidates for leadership within that group but that will be for Adam and his team to work out which way the captaincy will go."
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