THE Knights are in danger of losing promising five-eighth Brock Lamb before the start of next season ifthey are successful in signing Mitchell Pearce.
PROMISING: Brock Lamb scored tries in four of the Knights five wins in 2017.
Fairfax Media understands that Manly, who are also in the market for Pearce, are eyeing Lamb as a contingency if they strike out in their bid to recruit the former Roosters playmaker.
The race to sign Pearce is now a three-horse race – between Newcastle, Manly and Cronulla – after Melbournepulled out on Monday.
OPTIONS: Mitchell Pearce
Manly have been widely touted as the favourites, but reports that Pearce’s manager, Steve Gillis, is travelling to Newcastle later this week to meet with Wests Group/Knights chief executive Phil Gardner would suggest that the 28-year-old is still considering the option of leaving Sydney.
If he was to join the Knights, he would renew acquaintanceswith former Roosters teammates Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Aidan Guerra and Connor Watson, the latter of whom has been guaranteed first shot at playing five-eighth next season.
Lamb was expected to partner him in the halves, after a breakout 2017 campaign in which he made 21 appearances and was a nominee forthe Dally M rookie-of-the-year award, won by Canberra’s Nick Cotric.
But if the Pearce-Watson pairing was reunited, Lamb would in all likelihood be facing the prospect of playing NSW Cup or possibly being used as an interchange utility in first grade.
Manly need a replacement five-eighth after releasing experienced Blake Green to join the Warriors.
Lamb is contracted to the Knights until the end of 2018 and the Maitland-born 20-year-old isregarded as a long-term first-grader.
Newcastle officials have regularly stated the importance of retaining their best local juniors, but in this case they may considerreleasingthe 2014 n Schoolboys star if his pathway to first grade was blocked.
Brown has granted a number of other Newcastle players early releases over the past two seasons when they attracted interest fromrival clubs, including Joseph Tapine (Canberra), Tariq Sims (St George Illawarra), Korbin Sims (Brisbane) andJoe Wardle (Castleford).
After debuting in 2016 as a 19-year-old, Lamb played only three games in that season before suffering an ankle injury that required surgery. He became a mainstay last season, scoring five tries, kicking 23 goals and a field goal and producing a team-high 10 try assists.
Asked recently about the prospect of Newcastle signing Pearce, Lamb produced a diplomatic response.
“He’s a quality player, he’s played Origin, he’s won a premiership,”he told Fairfax Media.“His experience would be second to none, but I’m not sure what’s going to happen there, so we’ll just go with the flow.”