'Upset' Pearce to explore options away from Roosters
AN angry Mitchell Pearce has told Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson he wants to explore opportunities at rival NRL clubs in anticipation of the Cooper Cronk signing.
The 238-game halfback is under contract for another two seasons at Bondi Junction but privately feels betrayed by the club's decision to secure the Kangaroos halfback in a deal that will be announced next week.
The Daily Telegraph understands Cronk will fly to Sydney after the Test match against England on Friday night before a formal announcement early next week.
Pearce did not return text messages yesterday. He is preparing for a holiday in the United States next week before returning home to sort out his future.
He has spoken to Robinson twice in recent days about what Cronk's signing will mean.
"He's very upset," said one of Pearce's closest associates.
"He loves the Roosters and always wanted to be a one-club player.
"Yet he feels that, for everything the club has done for him, he deserves better for a player who has been there 10 years and played nearly 240 games."
A number of clubs, including the Manly Sea Eagles, the Cronulla Sharks and the Newcastle Knights are closely monitoring the situation.
It is a delicate position because Pearce has not yet been given permission by the Roosters to negotiate elsewhere.
Officially he and his manager Steve Gillis can't talk to rival clubs while his contract has two years to run at Bondi Junction.
Yet Roosters insiders concede it probably only 'a 50-50' chance that he will stay.
This despite Roosters supremo Nick Politis telling The Sunday Telegraph he would not release Pearce.
"I want Mitchell to play here until he's 35," Politis said.
That position appears to be softening.
Why keep a player on $800,000-a-season who doesn't want to be there?
The bonus for Pearce is that rival clubs will more than match the money he is on at the Roosters.
Manly coach Trent Barrett is keen to allow five-eighth Blake Green the opportunity to take up a multimillion-dollar long-term offer from the New Zealand Warriors but can't make a decision until he gets an answer on Pearce.
While Pearce's future is in doubt, the Roosters have confirmed Cronk's inevitable signing will not affect either Boyd Cordner or Jake Friend as co-captains.