Mitchell Pearce said he would have been happy with a back-seat leadership role at the Newcastle Knights after he made the quantum leap to join the NRL wooden spooners this season.
But a glowing endorsement from his new team-mates and his on-field influence were major factors in coach Nathan Brown naming the former Sydney Roosters playmaker as the club’s co-captain alongside highly respected backrower Jamie Buhrer at the Knights’ season launch on Friday night.
While Buhrer, who captained the side on nine occasions at the end of last season, was considered a shoo-in for the joint role again, Brown admitted he gave plenty of thought to who would share the job within him.
“We had some really good contenders there but I think we have got the balance right with JB [Buhrer] and Mitch,”Brown said.
“JB is obviously highly regarded by the playing group and the coaches and all the new recruits who have come in this season really respect him so he was an obvious choice.
“He is the one setting the standards at training and on game day and was here leading the way through some tough times last season. But he is not going to be on the field all the time and we just felt that he needed some support.
“Mitch is running the show on the field and calling the shots but just as importantly, his team-mates were really pushing for him.”
Brown believes naming joint captains makes sense.
“In this day and age, where there are so many commitments both on and off the field, there is a lot more responsibility on captains so sharing the load around has a lot of merit,”he said.
Brown said both Sione Mata’utia, who captained the side on eight occasions last season after Trent Hodkinson’s axing, and Aidan Guerra were also seriously considered for the co-captaincy role.
“Sione was pitched into the role last season and has matured a lot as a leader and I have no doubt in the future, he will help carry this club forward,”Brown said.
“But he has just become a parent for the first time and is working hard on getting his own game going again in a new position after the issues he has faced. He probably has enough on his plate without needing more challenges.
“Aidan has also really stepped up for us. But they along with Barney [Mitch Barnett], Shaun Kenny-Dowall and Nathan Ross from our leadership group will all be big contributors for us.”
There is a lot more responsibility on captains so sharing the load around has a lot of merit.Coach Nathan Brown