Pack enforcer Mitch Barnett has dismissed talk the Knights are devoid of leadership options in the wake of Mitchell Pearce's decision last week to walk away from the club captaincy.
Touted as a "potential future captain" by Knights CEO Phil Gardner after winning his second Danny Buderus Medal back in 2019, Barnett is one of a number of players who could find himself in contention for a leadership role at the club this season.
Coach Adam O'Brien is expected to finalise his leadership group over the next few weeks with veteran playmaker Blake Green believed to be the frontrunner to take over as skipper with a number of younger "lieutenants" to assist him.
Barnett, who is just 10 games shy of playing 100 NRL matches, says he hasn't thrown his hat into the ring for the job and doesn't subscribe to the theory the side is lacking players with leadership qualities.
"Me personally, I honestly haven't thought about it [captaincy] too much but if it was to ever come my way, it would obviously be an honour," Barnett said.
"I feel like I display good leadership qualities but that's something for Adam to work out.
"I certainly don't think there is any shortage of good leaders here. You've got big Klem [David Klemmer], I think D Saf [Daniel Saifiti] is really maturing into a leader, young Brails [Jayden Brailey] and Fitz [Lachlan Fitzgibbon] and you have mentioned Blake Green.
"All those guys have leadership qualities so there is a good, long-term core here and as a playing group, there is a lot of faith here among the boys about how we can move forward and what we can achieve as a club under Adam going forward.
"I don't see it as a real issue for us to be honest. I haven't spoken to anyone about it but the leaders pick themselves I reckon by the way they play and train and I'm sure Adam will come up with the right guys."
Barnett hopes the unproven accusations of racism leveled at him by Titans player Tyrone Peachey at the end of last season won't affect his standing as a potential club leader going forward.
"The club knows I didn't say it and they backed me 100 percent afterwards so I can't see it being an issue," he said. "But if that's a reason why I'm not considered at this stage than so be it. I'll support whatever decision is made. It won't affect the way I play or train whatever happens. I play because I love the game but also because I'm a competitive person who wants to win. Any honour you get in your career along the way I treat as just a bonus."
Barnett says he is yet to speak to O'Brien about whether he will play at lock or as an edge backrower this season.
"I like 13 but I've been doing a bit on the edge still at training so we'll see on that one," he said. "I'm still yet to have that chat with Adam about where he is thinking of playing me but the plan will be to sit down with him and get his thoughts on it."
He says he has learnt from the racial drama.
"The racial stuff took a lot of energy out of me there at the end," he said. "Just the constant talking about it and the questioning - it wears you out and my mind wasn't 100 percent where it should have been.
"That definitely affected me. I'll be better for it. I've got to learn to handle those situations as a professional a lot better."
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