IT could be just another rugby league rumour doing the rounds.
But if that is indeed the case, the Newcastle Knights have shown no great urgency to refute suggestions that veteran halfback Mitchell Pearce is in the sights of rival clubs.
The Daily Telegraph reported last week that Canterbury were considering making a play for the former NSW Origin No.7.
The Canberra Times revealed on Sunday that the Raiders are also interested in securing Pearce as a replacement for departed English international George Williams.
It seems a bit strange, given that Pearce signed a one-season contract extension in March that ties him to Newcastle until the end of next season.
Offered a chance to address the issue on Monday, Knights CEO Phil Gardner replied: "We do not comment on media speculation."
That's fine, but such a policy is a bit like hoping we can make COVID-19 disappear simply by pretending it doesn't exist.
From my experience, the most effective technique for hosing down unsubstantiated speculation is to tackle it head-on and deny there is any truth in it.
This gossip would be rendered null and void if the Knights had responded by saying: "Mitchell Pearce is contracted to this club until the end of 2022 and we have no intention of releasing him."
Likewise, coach Ricky Stuart had a chance to deny the Raiders had any interest in 32-year-old Pearce.
Instead Stuart's response was non-committal. "There has been speculation on about four or five halfbacks. I'm no further in regards to having an option at this stage," he told the Canberra Times.
Of course, the days when a rugby league contract was worth the paper on which it is printed are ancient history.
Pearce himself was still on a lucrative deal with Sydney Roosters when, in late 2017, he was granted a release to sign with Newcastle.
That term expires at the end of this season, and when Pearce extended it for a further 12 months, he reportedly agreed to a large pay cut. At the time, he apparently saw no cause for complaint.
"There's been a lot of talk, but I never wanted to go anywhere else ... I see myself as a Knight now and I really want to get the job done with the club and the boys up here," Pearce said in March.
But given that Pearce agreed to a one-year extension on reduced dollars, how hard would it be for a rival club to tempt him with a better offer, even if they are not officially allowed to contact him until after November 30?
Maybe he wouldn't be remotely interested and is genuine in his desire to play out his career in Newcastle.
But conspiracy theorists might ask why the Knights are keen to sign St George Illawarra's back-up halfback, Adam Clune. Some may query if Clune is effectively an insurance policy, just in case Pearce does decide his future lies elsewhere.
All of which, it should be noted, is speculation. Jumping to conclusions.
That's what tends to happen, when simple questions are left unanswered.
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