Mitchell Pearce has responded to Paul Gallen's back-handed swipe, declaring he isn't worried about his NSW representative future after signing with Newcastle.
The Blues State of Origin playmaker had his first training session with his Knights teammates on Monday after his departure from the Sydney Roosters.
Not only is it the biggest shake up at the Knights in a long time, it's the biggest move in Pearce's NRL career after he ended his 10-year association with the Roosters.
After Pearce turned down Cronulla and Manly in favour of signing with the three- time reigning wooden spooners, Sharks skipper Gallen said he feared for his former Origin teammate's game -- and by extension his NSW chances.
Asked if his Origin prospects had entered his thinking, Pearce said he was primarily motivated by his own happiness but said he could get back to the pinnacle of rugby league if he got the best out of himself.
"That wasn't the main focus of my decision," he said.
"The main focus of my decision was firstly happiness, a new opportunity and a new challenge.
"That's what motivates me the most at this point in my career and that's why I'm standing here.
"I wanted to come here and be a part of this club and what they're building.
"All that other stuff takes care of itself, if you're being the best person you can every day."
Asked if Gallen was dirty because he turned down the Sharks, Pearce joked: "Maybe a little bit."
Pearce revealed that after his first meeting with Knights coach Nathan Brown, he rang his father, Balmain legend Wayne Pearce, and told him he wanted to be part of their rebuild.
"As soon as I came to Newcastle, I called dad on the way home and said there's something special, the club's building to a really good place," Pearce said.
"I see myself at a point in my career where I'm excited to take that leadership role.
"They've taken some hits the last couple of years and built some real resilience. I can hopefully bring a bit of experience."
Pearce was cautious about making any top-eight predictions, saying it was "ridiculous" to try and set lofty goals given he had only had one session.
Pearce was thrown into first-grade at 17 and State of Origin the year after.
He said many of the young group at the Knights had, likewise, been thrown into the deep end before their time and he was hoping they could learn off his experiences.
"They've come in and had to learn the hard way," he said.
"You naturally build a resilience by doing that.
"The first thing I noticed when coming into training today was there is a mad buzz around.
"It's a similar feeling to what I had at the Roosters. There's a family feeling here.
"And it seems like there's no fear.
"It's a recipe for success."