DCE offers switch to land Mitch
MANLY skipper Daly Cherry Evans has unselfishly volunteered a positional switch to five-eighth to pave the way for Mitchell Pearce's signing at the Sea Eagles.
Pearce insists he wants to play at No.7 and has been given that guarantee by Sea Eagles coach Trent Barrett with the blessing of DCE, according to Manly sources.
The Sea Eagles have been in talks with Pearce since early October when it was first revealed the Sydney Roosters had prioritised Cooper Cronk as their next major signing.
The way Barrett coaches, Cherry Evans would control one side and Pearce the other.
It would be a fitting partnership in that they both, rightly or wrongly, have been two of the NRL's most maligned players of recent years.
Only one hurdle remains before Manly finalise his contract - a salary cap clearance from NRL auditors to pay Pearce around $2.7 million over three years.
The club have released five-eighth Blake Green to the New Zealand Warriors but are still under an integrity unit investigation from the past three years.
Emails involving third-party payments have been uncovered.
There is a potential problem, although nothing anywhere near as serious as the Parramatta Eels scandal of 2016.
Pearce's contract would have to be back-ended and average out at $900,000 a season to accommodate him at Brookvale in 2018.
Even with Green gone, Manly have only $500,000 in next year's cap. They would have to pay Pearce $2.2 million over the following two years.
There other alternative is to release a mid-range player, not that Barrett is keen to do that.
Cronulla and the Newcastle Knights are not out of the running yet but it is clear the Sea Eagles are Pearce's first choice, providing the NRL accepts the deal.
Pearce is due to meet the Sea Eagles, Sharks and Knights in the coming days to finalise his plans.
The money available in Newcastle would make Pearce almost the highest paid player in the game but he clearly wants to remain in Sydney.
Pearce gave the impression he had made up his mind about next year when he calmly sat down with coach Trent Robinson on Monday to ask for the release.
He looked settled, comfortable and without a worry in the world, extremely unusual for someone about to end a 10-year association with an NRL club.