Tigers’ SOS for Pearce comes as no surprise to Catalans coach

Mitchell Pearce is loving life and football and is in such a good headspace that Super League club Catalans were hardly surprised the Wests Tigers are interested in luring him back to the NRL.

Pearce reportedly received an SOS from incoming coach Benji Marshall on Wednesday as the club leans on under-siege playmaker Luke Brooks to help them avoid a fifth straight loss to start the year.

News of Pearce and the Tigers’ interested was first floated on NRL 360, before Pearce himself confirmed in a text to News Corp Australia that Marshall had called him, only to inform him he was contracted to the Dragons.

Catalans coach Steve McNamara told the Herald there had been no discussions about an early exit with the halfback who turns 33 next week.

The club has an option in their favour for 2024, and if they were to entertain cutting Pearce loose, they would likely command a transfer fee.

“It’s news to me, but it doesn’t surprise me either,” McNamara told the Herald.

Mitchell Pearce has been in fine form in the Super League.Credit:Getty

“In the past I know it had been floated about Mitch joining the Tigers because of the link through his father [Balmain legend Wayne].

“And he’s said in the past he would never say never about returning to the NRL.

“He has a really smart football brain. He’s done it from a really young age, he’s been in some successful teams — teams that have been to grand finals and played in State of Origin — so he has plenty of experience.”

“Mitch is as clear-minded as I’ve seen him. Coming to the south of France has been really good for him. He’s just looking forward to having a really good season with us this year.

“I’m sure NRL clubs are looking at a lot of players over here, but it’s no surprise they’d be looking at Mitch. I’m glad we’ve got him this year.

“We’ve got the option for him next year, but we’ll have those conversations in due course.”

“He’s still a loveable and likeable character. He picked up a calf injury just before the start of the season, but other than that, he’s as fit as he’s been, and as enthusiastic as he’s ever been about playing the game as well.”

Pearce was one of the most heavily scrutinised players during his 15 seasons in the NRL, and criticised for his inability to get the job done on the Origin stage against the greatest Queensland teams in history.

Brooks is also used as a perennial punching bag by Tigers fans, and the interest in Pearce will no doubt be interpreted by him as an indication his junior club will move in a different direction next season.

Under-siege Wests Tigers playmaker Luke BrooksCredit:Getty

Sheens is a big fan of Brooks and even this week told the Herald he had no appetite to drop him back to NSW Cup. The Tigers coach is expected to address media at lunchtime on Thursday.

Marshall will take the reins at the Tigers in 2025, and while he has a say when it comes to what the future roster looks like, the recruitment and retention at the club rests mostly with Sheens and his trusted offsider Warren McDonnell.

Catalans have won five of their opening six games, and still have two overseas spots — and the cash — to sign a middle forward and centre.

Jared Waerea-Hargreaves was linked to the club over the summer, and while they could still financially accommodate a mid-season move, the international prop clearly still has unfinished business with the Sydney Roosters.

Meanwhile, Josh Schuster is a late scratching in a blow for Manly ahead of their clash against Newcastle in Mudgee on Saturday.

Schuster missed the start of the season due to a calf issue and a recurrence will sideline him for the encounter at Glen Willow Oval. The Samoan international has formed a strong combination with Daly Cherry-Evans since being given the chance to replace Kieran Foran in the halves, producing three try assists and one line-break assist in his two 2023 appearances.

However, Schuster is expected to be replaced by Cooper Johns, who was named in jersey No.19 on an extended bench. The Knights remain without their own star five-eighth after Kalyn Ponga travelled to Canada for concussion testing.

with Adrian Proszenko.

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