RUGBY LEAGUE: While Manly remains favourite to sign star halfback Mitchell Pearce Newcastle remain in the frame with the NSW investigating his options at the Knights.
It's no secret rival players have been reaching out to Pearce with Cronulla duo Paul Gallen and Wade Graham admitting they contacted the in-demand No.7 but it's the call Pearce made himself which could prove the most telling.
Pearce rang former Roosters teammate Connor Watson to pick the brain of the Knights' new recruit.
After requesting a release from his contract with the Roosters as a result of their decision to sign Cooper Cronk, a host of clubs contacted Pearce's management to register their interest in signing the No.7.
Manly are still the favourite to nab Pearce who would join Daly Cherry-Evans in the halves at Brookvale in 2018 but Cronulla and Newcastle remain in the mix.
And in the strongest indication yet that Pearce could shock the rugby league landscape by linking with the wooden spooners, Watson revealed to foxsports.com.au that it was Pearce who picked up the phone and called him.
"He sort of asked me about the club and what I thought of Newcastle so far,” Watson said.
"I told him I love it. I obviously haven't been here too long but from the time I've spent here and around training, it's a good place and there's a good vibe here.
"It's definitely a strong option.”
In the wake of that call Pearce met on Friday with Knights coach Nathan Brown and the club's general manager of football Darren Mooney.
While it's been reported that Newcastle have offered Pearce a five or six-year deal, it is understood no formal offer has yet been tabled.
Pearce is expected to meet with officials from the clubs he's interested in again this week.
Cronulla hopes to land Pearce in a move which would allow Matt Moylan to play fullback, while Manly are desperate to sign the playmaker after releasing Blake Green to take up a rich deal with the Warriors.
With cap space tight for next season, several of their players are being offered up to rivals so the Sea Eagles can table Pearce an enticing deal.
"He's still not sure what he's doing yet,” Watson said.
"It would be awesome to get him up here.
"He's such a talented footballer and he works so hard. A lot of people don't see it but he's probably the hardest working player that I've met. It would be awesome to have him up here.”
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