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Who will captain the Newcastle Knights in Mitchell Pearce’s absence?

IT is perhapsthe least of his concerns, but Knights coach Nathan Brown islikely to need anew captain –as well as a primary playmaker – inthe long-term absence ofMitchell Pearce.
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Pearce’s pectoral injury, sustained late in Newcastle’s 22-20 win against the Tigers in Tamworth, leaves Brown without an official skipper in his starting line-up.

Pearce was named as co-captain with Jamie Buhrer at the start of the season, but the latteris yet to feature in Brown’s first 13 this year.

Instead he has been used in six games as a bench utility, largely because his versatility covers so many options.

EXPERIENCED: Aidan Guerra could be a candidate to captain Newcastle in Mitchell Pearce’s absence.

Unless Buhreris promoted to the run-on team for Friday’s clash with Manly at Brookvale, Newcastle will need a new man to lead them out.

Back-rower Aidan Guerra, a Queensland Origin and n Test representative, would seem a logical candidate.

If so, he would become the seventh captain ofBrown’s three seasons at Newcastle’s helm.

The other possibility is that Brown might consider reinstatingcentre Sione Mata’utia, who spent much of last season as co-captain before the coach decided he would be better served focusing on his owngame.

BODY BLOW: Mitchell Pearce

Buhrer’s hopes of starting a game in his preferred back-row role would appear slim, given that Guerra, Lachlan Fitzgibbon and Mitch Barnett are established in those positions.

He spent several minutes at five-eighth against the Tigers, and conjured up the matchwinning try with a precise kick for Shaun Kenny-Dowall, and filled in as pivot on a handful of occasions at his former club, Manly.

Brown is hopeful his first-choice five-eighth, Connor Watson, will be cleared to return this week, after missing four games with a shoulder injury. If fit, Watson isexpected to partner another Central Coast product, Jack Cogger, who impressed Brown against the Tigers.

VERSATILE: Jamie Buhrer

“He had a terrific little game, Jack …he had some nice subtle touches, which he’s really worked hard on the last two or three years in his game,” Brown said. “He’s certainly put his hand in the window to deserve another shot next week.”

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