Mitchell Pearce signs with Newcastle Knights

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AAP

Strugglers Newcastle have achieved a milestone moment in their rebuild after signing NSW State of Origin halfback Mitchell Pearce to a rich four-year NRL deal.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 23:  Mitchell Pearce of the Roosters offloads the ball during the NRL preliminary final match between the Sydney Roosters and the North Queensland Cowboys at Allianz Stadium on September 23, 2017 in Sydney, Australia.  (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Mitchell Pearce of the Roosters offloads the ball during the NRL preliminary final match between the Sydney Roosters and the North Queensland Cowboys at Allianz Stadium in Sydney.

Source: Getty

Following his departure from the Sydney Roosters, Pearce rejected offers from Cronulla and Manly in favour of moving up the M1 on a deal worth a reported $4 million.

The Knights reportedly had $1.6 million to spend in their salary cap after three disastrous seasons in which they finished last and it's believed the Sea Eagles and Sharks were unable to match their offer.

"I see a group of guys working hard and on the way up and I want to be part of making this team strong again for the town," Pearce said.

"I am passionate about helping and leading the young players at the club.

"From the moment I spoke to Nathan (Brown) and (football manager) Darren (Mooney) about where the club is heading, I knew this is where I wanted to be.

Pearce will begin pre-season training with the Knights on Monday.

The 28-year-old sought a release from the Roosters following the arrival of Cooper Cronk from Melbourne and will join fellow former Tricolours Aidan Guerra, Shaun Kenny-Dowall and Connor Watson at the Knights.

Newcastle greats Andrew and Matthew Johns are said to have been instrumental in luring him to the club.

It leaves Manly without a recognised halves partner for Daly Cherry-Evans in 2018 following the departure of Blake Green to the Warriors.

Pearce is expected to team up with Watson in the halves next year, leaving youngster Brock Lamb's future under a cloud.

The Knights say they have the money to retain Lamb but he might seek an opportunity elsewhere after proving himself during the Knights' strong run home this year.

After the Knights missed out on marquee recruitment targets Jack Bird, Matt Scott, James Maloney and James Graham, the signing of Pearce shapes as turning point.

The high-calibre No.7 is the type of player coach Nathan Brown could build his club around and could act as a lure for other stars.

It also caps off an impressive signing spree in which they have netted Guerra, Kalyn Ponga, Chris Heighington, Jacob Lillyman and Tautau Moga.

"Mitch will play an important role with the development of our young halves and will also be influential in the overall growth of our side," Brown said.

"Mitch has an exceptional kicking game and is a great competitor. He has some big game experience and I know he comes here wanting to be a leader."

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