Mitchell Pearce has spent most of the three months since he arrived in Newcastle singing the praises of just about everything and everyone.
From the city itself, to the club, the coaches, his new teammates, the fans – you name it, he hasn’t held back about how comfortable he now feels since quitting the Sydney Roosters and heading up the freeway.
If Pearce had become unappreciated and just another number at the Roosters before his departure, he is feeling the love and dishing it out in return since linking with the Knights.
And the smile – it has been almost impossible to wipe it off his face.
Until last Friday night.
Not long after he and Jamie Buhrer were announced as the club’s new co-captains and interviewed on stage in front of a swollen auditorium full of Knights corporate types at NEX Club, the emotion got to the Knights playmaker as he spoke to the Newcastle Herald about what the honour meant.
And if it wasn’t already apparent just how much his new club and home means to him, the tears welling in his eyes a week out from the premiership opener against Manly said more than any compliment or smile could ever do.
“Yeah, it’s emotional for me and a bit surreal to be honest,”he said.
“I probably haven’t been really thinking too much about the bigger picture during the pre-season because there has been so much going on and so much to do.
“I came here wanting to lead but you are coming into a new group and have to earn that respect first. To be named co-captain and know your teammates played a big part in putting you there, it has sort of hit me about how special it really is.
”About how much I feel a part of this club and town and how hard I’ll work to make sure we find success.”
Pearce praised the “really strong” leadership group the club has assembled and said the appointment of Jamie Buhrer as co-captain was a major positive.
“When you come to a new club, you don’t say much and just work hard and get a feel for how things work,” he said.
“Jamie is the out-and-out leader here at the club.
“It would have been tough being a captain and a leader when you are not winning too much and you can just see how much respect all the boys have for Jamie. So I’m looking forward to partnering him.
“He hasn’t wiped the smile off his face the whole pre-season knowing that he is getting a bit more support now. I’ve got a lot of respect for the way he has held a positive head since he has been here.
“I just think we have a really strong leadership group and a guy like Aidan Guerra would have been a really strong captaincy choice as well so I’m just really grateful to have been chosen.”
Buhrer said he is honoured to have the job once again.
“We have a lot more leaders doing the heavy lifting behind the scenes and that’s a testament to the quality of the players we have been able to bring in. It is great that a lot of people are pushing the standards,”he said.