Knights' Pearce to miss Storm NRL clash

·2-min read

Newcastle have suffered a big blow for their NRL clash with defending premiers Melbourne with halfback Mitchell Pearce ruled out with a hamstring injury.

The Knights had a win of sorts when the match was relocated from Melbourne's feared AAMI Park to neutral territory on the Gold Coast.

And in a further boost, game-breaking fullback Kalyn Ponga came through Queensland's Origin win unscathed and is expected to line up on Saturday night.

But that was offset when Pearce was ruled out after suffering a hamstring issue, compounded by the Knights being unable to send him for scans because of the NRL bubble.

"Mitchell Pearce has got some awareness in his hamstring at the moment," coach Adam O'Brien said on Friday.

"It's been a really indifferent and challenging week so the smart thing to do is to be patient there."

It means Phoenix Crossland will play at halfback, granted a special exemption by the NRL to come into the team from outside the original 21-man squad.

Ponga "pulled up well" after starring in the Maroons' shock Origin victory over NSW on Wednesday night.

O'Brien said playing Melbourne as the second leg of a double-header at Cbus Super Stadium was a positive with the match switched due to the COVID-19 outbreaks in Victoria and NSW.

"It doesn't guarantee a result but you don't have to be a rocket scientist to know that Melbourne in Melbourne are a pretty formidable opponent," he said.

Meanwhile, the Knights welcomed news that forwards Daniel and Jacob Saifiti have signed contract extensions with the club.

Daniel, a current NSW player and co-captain of the club, will remain a Knight until at least the end of the 2026 season while Jacob inked a two-year extension.

"It's a huge boost for the group to hear both of those boys have signed," O'Brien said.

"We can build a team around those guys."

Daniel missed the Blues' final Origin match with a rib cartilage injury but O'Brien said he was hopeful his star prop would play against Melbourne.

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