Roosters captain Boyd Cordner says the club won’t miss a beat following the release of Mitchell Pearce.
Pearce was granted a release on Monday following the recent signing of Cooper Cronk to a two-year deal.
The 28-year-old is now on the hunt for a new club with several lining up for the NSW No.7.
Speaking from Kangaroos camp ahead of Friday night’s World Cup semi-final against Fiji, Cordner said while he would ahve preferred Pearce to stay, he didn't think his exit would adversely affect the club.
“If you have a look at the halfback (Cronk) we’ve just signed, he’s a Queensland Origin halfback, a premiership winning halfback and he’s also the Australian halfback,” he said.
“Although Pearcey is a great player, and I think what he does on the field sometimes no one else can do. In saying that I don’t think we’ll lose much with Cooper Cronk coming in to the side.
“...It’s a pretty good replacement isn’t it? Cooper Cronk’s a Rooster now and I can’t be happier that he’s at our club. What he brings not only on the field but off the field as well, he’s going to be massive for our club.”
Cronk’s signing understandably hurt Pearce who spent a decade with the Bondi club during which time he helped the Roosters to the 2013 NRL Premiership.
Pearce was much-loved by the coaching staff and players, however, Cordner was adamant Cronk would feel no tension from the Roosters playing group on arrival.
“Not at all,” he said. “I have spoken to the boys and everyone was really excited by the addition of Cooper Cronk’s signing and everyone is really keen to play with him.
“That’s footy. Pearcey’s moved on now. On behalf of the coaching staff and the playing group we are more than happy to have Cronk as a Rooster now. 100%. There’s no ifs or buts about it."
Cordner said he understood Cronk would be feeling the heat after Pearce's exit.
“I have spoken to Cooper and it’s probably only natural for him to feel like that (awkward) coming to a new club and this has happened, but, I just reassured him that we are so happy that he’s coming to the Roosters," he said.
“He’s a Rooster now and these things are out of your control and that’s footy. It’s a business so he shouldn’t be feeling like it’s his fault because it’s not. It’s a business. It’s football, it happens."
Cordner said while he would miss his good mate, he was certain Pearce would succeed at whatever club he signed with.
“All along I don’t know if I was just hopeful that he was going to stay. I thought he might’ve stayed but it wasn’t to be and I can understand and I respect his decision,” he said.
"It’s sad to see him leave but also as a mate I am happy he has made that decision and I’ll support him 100% of the way."
“I have been speaking to a couple of the boys and although they are sad as well, they understand the situation and understand what’s going on…that’s football and we’ll move on.
“He’s proven all through his career and especially this year I thought he had one of his best years. As a playing group we had all our trust in Pearcey.”