NRL | Mitchell Pearce says providing a strong kicking game and some direction will be his aims when he returns from a long-term injury against the Eels at McDonald Jones Stadium

For Mitchell Pearce, the expectations are simple enough.

A good kicking game and some direction.

That’s what the Knights co-captain will be telling himself he must come up with when he makes his return from a three month stint on the sideline through injury against Parramatta at McDonald Jones Stadium on Friday night.

The danger for Pearce is to complicate things any more than that. To think, given the hype around his comeback match, he has to get out there and re-invent the wheel.

Try and make up for lost time. He knows that’s a recipe for over-playing his hand.

Calling the shots: Co-captain Mitchell Pearce says he is raring to go against the Parramatta Eels. Picture: Darren Pateman/AAP.

Calling the shots: Co-captain Mitchell Pearce says he is raring to go against the Parramatta Eels. Picture: Darren Pateman/AAP.

“I think as a halfback when you have been out, there is a tendency to sometimes feel you have to come back and do too much,”he admitted on Thursday.

“But I’m a bit older now and I’d like to think I know what a solid game is for me.

“My job for the team, more than anything, is to bring a good kicking game and some direction and the game will pan out however it pans out after that.

“Opportunities will come up. I’d like to kick well and give the boys direction and see how we go after that.”

Given that they have been the areas where the Knights have struggled the most in his absence, it’s a good starting point.

Pearce says he could not have done more to prepare himself for his comeback after missing the last 12 weeks with a torn pectoral muscle.

“I just went through the normal rehab program, just slowly building up to doing more contact and I’ve done two weeks of team training with the boys,” he said.

“It feels strong and confident and hopefully it holds up during the game.

“I’m just looking forward to getting back out there and hopefully doing my job for the team.”

Like most players, Pearce is not a great spectator.

He says looking from the sidelines for such a lengthy period has given him a different perspective on the game.

But he has missed the competitiveness of playing. The sense of going into battle with your mates beside you. 

“I feel hungry,” he says.

“It’s been tough coming to a new club and not playing, you feel like you have let everybody down.

“You get brought here and paid to play and its disappointing not playing but I get an opportunity for the next eight weeks to finish the year strong and do my part for the team.”

While the results in his absence don’t reflect it, Pearce believes there has been no lack of desire within the playing group.

“The commitment from the whole team has been great,”he said.

“We have had some obstacles this year with some injuries. At one period, we’ve had six or seven of our starting players out.

“That’s going to hurt any team. I think the biggest thing the whole club and players have done over the past two months is play with desire every week and we have to turn that desire into a few wins over the next eight weeks.”

Pearce expects the Eels to turn up on Friday night ready to play.

“Teams at the bottom of the ladder, tend to start really well and whether you can last for 80 minutes in that head-space will determine how the game goes but I know Parramatta will start really well tomorrow,” he said.

“They will be coming up here hungry and we have to start fast as well.”

The Knights halfback is confident 20-year-old debutant Nick Meaney will play his part at fullback.

“I haven’t had too much to do with Means but all the boys are saying what a quality player he has been for a long time in all the juniors,” he said.

“He’s a really good guy and I know he is really excited for his opportunity so it would be great for us to deliver him a win on his debut.”