There is no question Mitchell Pearce brings a lot of unwanted heat on himself when he has stuffed up off the field during his career.
But he is also the victim of plenty of false accusations too. We're told there have been three alleged "incidents" supposedly involving Pearce that have been, or are being, investigated by the NRL Integrity Unit since news broke of his texting controversy over Christmas.
The first came from a publican in Byron Bay who fingered Pearce and some of his Knights teammates for playing up at his pub in late December. The Knights investigated and found no Newcastle players had even been to the hotel let alone played up there. The Integrity Unit conducted their own investigation which resulted in a player from a rival club getting in hot water.
Then came a query from a Brisbane journalist, who claimed a complaint had been made about Pearce supposedly urinating on a bowling club wall in Kingscliff on New Years Eve. The Integrity Unit again investigated. Pearce was in Newcastle on New Year's Eve.
The latest came via NRL 360's Paul Kent, who went to air this week with a rumour about Pearce actually breaking his thumb in a street fight rather than at pre-season training even though Kent said it had already been categorically denied to him by Knights coach Adam O'Brien weeks earlier.
Pearce broke his thumb during a wrestling drill at training in Tamworth with a doctor at the session and scans later that day in Tamworth confirmed the break.
The Knights halfback doesn't deserve or expect sympathy for some of the poor choices he has made in his personal life over the years. But at the same time, he doesn't deserve to be targeted and the centre of false accusations and cheap shots just because of who he is.
'Staggs party' unlikely
It's looking more and more like the Knights won't have the money to entice centre target Kotoni Staggs to the club next season.
Reports north of the border claim the Knights have met with Staggs to discuss his future but if his $800,000-a-season price-tag is correct, Newcastle won't be in the ballpark.
A pity. Staggs and Bradman Best, both future NSW Blues, would have made a fairly handy centre pairing.
Plenty has been made of Kalyn Ponga carrying a severe shoulder injury into games over the final month of the premiership last season.
What isn't as widely known is David Klemmer played the final 5 or 6 rounds and the semifinal against South Sydney with ruptured ligaments in his thumb as well as a knee injury.
Klemmer started the season last night at around 112kgs, a whopping 8kgs less than he weighed at his heaviest at the Bulldogs.
Interest through roof
The Knights are well on their way to reaching a record-breaking target of 24,000 members this year after smashing through the 19,000 barrier this week.
In a sure sign of what the fans think of having the footy back and being able to attend games in big numbers, merchandise sales are also understood to have gone through the roof in recent weeks.
The club's heritage jersey, commemorating the Knights' 2001 premiership win, has been a big hit and sold big numbers with more than 100 purchased in the first 24 hours of its release.
His name is Sue
There has been next to no hype around him since he arrived in town but former West Tigers and Bulldogs enforcer Jesse Sue has made a massive impression on the playing group and coaching staff.
Everyone has been talking about his level of professionalism and the example he is setting on the training paddock and it was no surprise to see him rewarded by coach Adam O'Brien with a starting spot in the pack last night against his old club.
His commitment to the club and the town runs in the family. Since moving to Newcastle, Sue's wife Liza has been waiting for a transfer from Sydney in her job with the Commonwealth Bank. In the meantime, she has been catching the train to Sydney every day for work.
King breaks duck
In his fifth year at the club, Josh King featured for the first time in a round 1 NRL game last night.
Long road back
Boom young English outside back Bailey Hodgson could be sidelined for up to nine weeks of the premiership as he recovers from knee surgery.
The 18-year-old fullback/centre arrived in Newcastle from Castleford late last year carrying an existing patella tendon injury suffered during his English Super League debut after he'd initially torn the tendon last September.
"I'd rehabbed it after the first time but in my debut game for Castleford in the Super League, I basically tore it again after 15 minutes before managing to get through the game sort of hobbling around," Hodgson told us.
He was back running again but during the Knights' camp in Tamworth after Christmas, he felt his knee go again and he was forced to go under the knife, mainly to have scar tissue surrounding the tendon cut out.
"It is frustrating but I know how long it's going to take so I've got my head around it," Hodgson told us. "I'm doing the rehab stuff and slowly getting back on track.
"I had the surgery and there was a lot of scar tissue in there so they've taken a lot of that out. It was basically just a little clean-up around my tendon. This time, I'm just going to make sure I've got it 100 percent right."
Since arriving in Newcastle, Hodgson has been boarding with Blake and Sarah Green and their two little ones Boston and Sadie, but that is about to change.
His family is moving out from England to Newcastle permanently to follow his career up close.
After some visa delays, Hodgson's mum Annette told us they are hoping to finally get on a flight tomorrow before going into quarantine in Sydney when they arrive.
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