Mitchell Pearce shuts down move to Wests Tigers after $1.5 million play

The club wants to bring the former Blues halfback to the NRL.

Tim Sheens watches on as coach and Mitchell Pearce before a State of Origin game.
Mitchell Pearce (pictured right) appears to have shut down any Wests Tigers approach. (Getty Images)

Mitchell Pearce has reportedly shut down any notion of signing for the Wests Tigers after reports the club were keen to bring the former New South Wales halfback back to the NRL. The Tigers are 0-4 to start the season, with coach Tim Sheens and assistant Benji Marshall struggling to turn around the fortunes of the bottom dwellers.

Luke Brooks has also come under fire for his performances in the No.7 jersey, despite being paid a reported $1.1 million for 2023. His halves partner Adam Doueihi - despite shifting to fullback last week - has also struggled. And in a staggering twist on Wednesday night, the Tigers were linked to 33-year-old Pearce in an apparent attempt to steady the ship.

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The Tigers have been attempting to bring another halfback to the club and missed out on Storm star Cameron Munster, Parramatta Eels' Mitchell Moses and England halfback George Williams. This has seen them look at bringing back Pearce from French club Catalans Dragons.

Pearce ended his contract with the Knights early to leave for the UK Super League in 2021. However, NRL 360 reporter James Hooper revealed the Wests Tigers were keen to bring the former State of Origin halfback back for a sensational return to the NRL.

Despite interest, veteran NRL reporter Paul Kent wasn't a fan of the move and labelled it a 'desperate' attempt from a club that is struggling to win a game in 2023. “It stinks of desperation,” Kent said on the show.

“What it does is it delays this whole five-year plan they’ve got. Every Tigers fan got sold on the five-year plan?

“Sheensy there for two years then Benji to take over for three more years and the best solution they come up with to fix their problems is to go to a halfback that hasn’t played in the competition for several years who is about to turn 34 years old, and chuck the two halves they’ve got out, one of which is on $1 million a year.”

Mitchell Pearce shuts down Benji Marshall approach

Hooper reported the Tigers were pursuing Pearce on a $1.5 million, two-year contract. However, according to News Corp, Pearce said he wouldn't be signing with the Tigers because he wanted to remain with Catalans and win the Super League.

"I don’t really have much to say. Benji called me yesterday and I told him I’m contracted to Catalans,” Pearce told News Corp in a message. “We are top of the table and I want to win a comp in Super League. That’s pretty much it.”

NRL 360 host Braith Anasta earlier disagreed with Kent and said Pearce could stabilise the team at a time when he feels they lack leadership. “No disrespect to the halves they’ve got there at the moment but he’d do a better job than both of them,” Anasta said in reply to the news. “He is getting a bit (old).

"But he’s a leader, he’s very dominant which is what they, he’s a traditional half and I think he’d bring a lot of direction to the side which they don’t have, he’d play off the back of Koroisau.”

Mitchell Pearce reacts during a Super League match.
Mitchell Pearce (pictured) is currently playing for the Catalan Dragons in the Super League. (Photo by Lee Parker - CameraSport via Getty Images) (Lee Parker - CameraSport via Getty Images)

The Tigers already brought in premiership winning No.9 Api Koroisau and immediately made him captain in an attempt to turn the club's form around. However, Sheens' shake-up on the weekend to throw Doueihi at fullback didn't have the desired impact.

The Melbourne Storm outplayed the Tigers on Friday night to win 24-12 at AAMI Park, with Tim Sheens' men starting the NRL season with a woeful 0-4 record. And the team's performance was summed up in a moment of madness when Storm player Tui Kamikamica hooked the ball and won the scrum for his team against the feed.

The Tigers then gave away a penalty on the next tackle to give the Storm field possession. Steve Roach labelled the play 'extraordinary' in commentary, while Sheens was fuming in the post-match press conference. “That just shouldn’t happen, not in today’s game anyway," he said.

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