Pearce not only star on Catalans' radar

The Catalans Dragons are hoping Mitchell Pearce is one of several NRL stars they can lure to France.
The Catalans Dragons are hoping Mitchell Pearce is one of several NRL stars they can lure to France.

Mitchell Pearce isn't the only NRL target the Catalans Dragons have their eyes on as the Newcastle playmaker looks increasingly likely to swap the Hunter Valley for the south of France.

Pearce has been linked with an immediate move away from the Knights where he is contracted until the end of the 2022 season.

The departure of James Maloney from the French club following their maiden Super League grand final appearance has opened the door for Pearce to head to Perpignan.

The sticking point remains, though, that the Knights are yet to agree for Pearce to explore his options and Catalans are yet to table an offer.

"We've been mindful that we don't want to just go and grab anything," Catalans' football manager, Alex Chan, told AAP of their search for Maloney's replacement.

"We want to do our due diligence and make sure we will add to an existing group because of what's available.

"We're not just in the market to fill spots. There's a connection with Steve McNamara - our head coach - they are really close from their history together at the Roosters.

"We've shown we are interested in him, but it comes down to whether Newcastle are prepared to let him go early."

Should Pearce, 32, leave Newcastle, the blow would be softened for the Knights in the fact they have signed St George Illawarra's Adam Clune and Jake Clifford over the last 12 months.

Young playmaker Phoenix Crossland is understood to have agreed to a new one-year contract with the club over the past week, while Kalyn Ponga could also shift into the halves with Tex Hoy and Bailey Hodgson options to go to fullback.

A move to France is not just an option for the Knights No. 7, with Catalans actively looking in the NRL market to fill their foreign quota.

Under Super League rules clubs are allowed to import seven players from overseas.

Catalans have Sam Kasiano, Dean Whare, Samisoni Langi and Josh Drinkwater on the books for 2022, meaning there they have three spots available.

"We're probably looking for another strong middle with some size as well as an outside back," Chan added.

"We're lucky at the moment in the young crop we've got coming through, some of whom played for France in the Test against England on the weekend.

"We will continue to work hard for those boys to bring them up to the standard."

"But for us, it's always about adding value."

Australian Associated Press