Pearce rejects Tigers’ desperate homecoming offer, Robinson assesses Radley with Cronk
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Former NSW half-back Mitchell Pearce has confirmed he has rejected an offer for a long-awaited ‘homecoming’ to the Wests Tigers.
The son of Balmain’s favorite son, Wayne Pearce, was approached by assistant coach Benji Marshall earlier this week about a possible return to the NRL.
Pearce, who turns 34 next week, is entering his second season with the Catalans in the Super League after leaving Newcastle at the end of 2021.
He played 309 NRL games over 15 seasons – 11 at the Roosters where he won the premiership in 2013 – and four at the Knights, and had spoken of a possible return after moving to the Super League to end his career .
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Pearce told NewsCorp that “I don’t really have much to say. Benji called me yesterday and I told him that I was under contract with the Catalans.
“We are top of the table and I want to win a Super League competition. That’s about it.
The news is another sign that halfback Luke Brooks will not be re-signed after his long-term, multimillion-dollar contract expires at the end of this season.
Brooks has been in dismal form this season as the Tigers fell to an 0-4 start to be on course for the dubious record for consecutive wooden spoons.
Despite the return of premiership-winning coach Tim Sheens and the addition of top rookies Api Koroisau, John Bateman, David Klemmer, Isaiah Papali’i and Charlies Staines, they lost at home to the Gold Coast and a 12-man Newcastle. line-up as well as road clashes with Canterbury and Melbourne.
They are rank underdogs for Saturday’s trip to Suncorp Stadium to take on the undefeated Broncos before taking on the Eels, Manly and Penrith in a horror streak punctuated by a Round 7 bye.
Unless they can turn their season around, they risk heading into their Magic Round clash with the Dragons in May without a win.
Robbo rates Radley up there with Cronk
Milestone man Victor Radley can thank his days as an apprentice carpenter for his depth of footy knowledge, which coach Trent Robinson ranks second only to Cooper Cronk.
Affectionately known as ‘Victor the Inflictor’, Radley has become one of the NRL’s most colorful characters thanks to his ferocity on the pitch and high work rate.
But as Radley prepares to face Parramatta in his 100th NRL game on Thursday night, Robinson paid tribute to an aspect of the centre-forward’s game that has long flown under the radar – his foot intelligence.
More than 100 different players have represented the Roosters at freshman level during Robinson’s 11 seasons in charge, but the coach said only four-time premiership winner Cronk came ahead of Radley in his knowledge of the game.
“He’s probably second only to Cooper in meeting attendance and the knowledge he can pick up and then repeat,” Robinson said.
“His knowledge of football is amazing, which he wouldn’t be credited with because he often plays the other card. He absolutely bleeds red, white and blue on the pitch, but (also) off the pitch.
“Everything he does for the Roosters community, and the love he has for this region and this club, is second to none.”
Radley’s knowledge can be attributed in part to his commitment to the club, but also to his pre-NRL days, when he worked under his father as an apprentice carpenter. On the construction site, Radley had a particular task that helped train his brain.
“He had to get all the lunch orders, so his memory must have been really good,” Robinson said. “He said he never got the lunch order wrong, out of the 15 guys there.
“His memory came from the fact that he was an apprentice. He’s lived and breathed football all his life and he loved it so much that he thinks it’s cool to know everything about football.
“The big games he’s been in and the intensity he brings to our game, it’s great to give him 100 games.”
Thursday night also marks 50 games in the NRL for young Roosters half-back Sam Walker. The 20-year-old said after a slow start to last season, the Roosters are focused on first wins this year.
“We build as a team,” Walker said. “We probably want to get a few more wins, we kind of left it a bit behind last year.”