Embattled Knights halfback Mitchell Pearce says he remains as motivated for success as ever this season despite having to undergo surgery for a fractured thumb that has continued his summer from hell.
Having already relinquished the captaincy and had his wedding called off following his much-publicised text message controversy, Pearce's pre-season has been further disrupted by his thumb injury that will keep him off the training paddock for the next fortnight.
But in a positive for the veteran playmaker and good news for Knights fans, he won't miss any football and will be available for the club's round one clash against the Bulldogs in March despite having a pin inserted in a hairline crack during an operation on Wednesday after a wrestling mishap in Tamworth last week.
"It's OK, it's just a bit of a bump. I'll get a surgery this arvo and should be back out with the ball in about two weeks," Pearce said prior to going under the knife. "It's a small little hiccup but it's a long year. There's a little crack there. I'm just grateful that if you were going to get it at any time, it's now."
It has been a tough six weeks for the Newcastle halfback with his private life under heavy scrutiny after his wedding was called off.
When asked about how he is mentally coping with his off-field issues, Pearce said: "It's a private matter so we're working on it privately but things are going well. The boys have been great.
"That's one thing about playing team sport, I think Adz [Adam O'Brien] used the word 'family' and it's something that I've always thought of being in the rugby league community around your teammates, it's a real family. Right or wrong, good or bad, the boys will jump on and support their brother and their family members and that's what it's about. The way Adam explained it is the way I felt when I came back."
Pearce returned to training two weeks ago and said his decision to stand down as captain would not affect the way he plays.
"Stepping down was no way for me to escape from anything," he said. "I'm more motivated than I've ever been and I won't be stepping down from responsibility.
"I just want to win."
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