Knights coach Nathan Brown is realistic about the prospect of signing Roosters halfback Mitchell Pearce.

DILEMMA: Mitchell Pearce.
DILEMMA: Mitchell Pearce.

Newcastle coach Nathan Brown says “there is a lot of water to go under the bridge” if the the Knights are to have any hope of signing Roosters halfback Mitchell Pearce.

But Brown says at least the Knights won't need to clear the decks if Pearce  becomes available for next season.

Brown has already signalled his interest in approaching the NSW playmaker if he requests a release from the Roosters, as a direct fallout from the Cooper Cronk contract race.

Pearce reportedly told coach Trent Robinson this week that he wants to explore options elsewhere, saying he was frustrated that the Roosters would consider signing his rival State of Origin halfback.

Manly have also been linked to Pearce if he becomes available, but Brown said the Knights were already in a position to make a play given their salary cap position.

"We don't have to move anyone anywhere," Brown told AAP. "We're certainly in a good position in that if the right people come up we can recruit them. We've got five or six spots in our roster. We don't need to have any tough conversations with anyone."

Pearce's signing would create an embarrassment of riches in the halves for Newcastle.

The Knights told young recruit Connor Watson they wanted to make a home for him at No.6 when they signed him, while Brock Lamb has impressed at halfback.

Trent Hodkinson is also off-contract at the end of 2018, and had to spend part of last season in reserve grade. Brown said regardless of what happened with their roster, he saw no reason why the ex-NSW No.7  should have to leave the club.

INTEREST: Nathan Brown.

INTEREST: Nathan Brown.

"Hodko, just like everyone else, knows where he stands," Brown said. "He'll be in there fighting with the young halves. Obviously we've got a lot of hope for Connor Watson and Brock is developing nicely as well."

Having lost big-money players Jarrod Mullen and Dane Gagai, the Knights made a decision to leave space in their salary cap for want-away players during the off-season.

They have watched each of the Cronk, James Maloney and Matt Moylan contract situations with interest.

"Players have got to want to come here as well," Brown said.

"It's one thing saying that we're interested in player X, but the players have got to want to have a desire to come to Newcastle and want to play for the town and the team.”

Brown said the Knights' interest only extended as far as Pearce at the Roosters, and that he wouldn't make a play for hooker Jake Friend if he became available as part of a spine reshuffle.