Mitchell Pearce’s tumultuous off-season at the Newcastle Knights couldn’t get much worse.
The 31-year-old star recently stepped down from the club captaincy role following a text messaging scandal involving an employee at the NRL club.
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His wedding with fiancee Kristin Scott is now off, and she’s deleted all photos of him from her social media channels.
But there’s even more bad news for Pearce.
On Wednesday it was revealed that Pearce will undergo surgery after injuring his thumb at training last week.
The surgery is said to be minor and Pearce is confident of lining up for Newcastle in the opining round of the season on March 12.
“I’ll get surgery and I should be back out with the ball in two weeks,” Pearce told the Daily Telegraph.
“It’s a small little hiccup, but it’s a long year.”
Fresh twist in Pearce’s off-season from hell
The injury blow comes at the worst-possible time for Pearce, who is trying to get his life back on track following the texting scandal.
After a meeting with club staff, Pearce told the Knights’ playing group of his decision to step down before their return to pre-season training.
The former NSW State of Origin halfback read a written statement to reporters at a media conference, the first time he has spoken publicly since his wedding was called off last month.
“It's been a traumatic few weeks in my personal life and for those I love,” Pearce said.
“Unfortunately my actions have impacted the team and, more importantly, the people I have closest to me, Kristen and my family.
“I'm taking steps now to address these issues and I feel it would be in the best interests of the club for me to step down as captain for the season.
“I love this club and I love my family and I've committed to working as hard as I can to be the best man I can be both on and off the field.”
Knights coach Adam O'Brien said Pearce's off-field saga was “not an ideal situation” for a club desperate for success after making the finals for the first time in seven seasons in 2020, only to be bundled out in week one.
O’Brien said the decision to step down was Pearce's own call and dismissed any speculation of a rift within the playing group, with senior players understood to be close friends with the long-term partner of the Knights staffer involved in the scandal.
“It is a private matter and their welfare is the number one priority before football but ... the group is not divided,” O'Brien told reporters.
“If anything, Tuesday served to probably galvanise them a little bit.
“They understand that the team is like a family. They understand that family members make mistakes.
“If we're a good family, you don't turn your back on family members, you support them.”
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