NRL star Mitchell Pearce has admitted his texting scandal has hurt the people closest to him at an emotional media conference.
The teary-eyed halfback, 31, voluntarily stood down as captain of the Newcastle Knights after it was revealed he sent ‘flirty’ texts to a club staffer days before his nuptials.
The incident saw the veteran player’s wedding to glamorous fiancee Kristin Scott, which was scheduled for December 29, called off – although Pearce has insisted the ceremony has just been postponed.
The ceremony was meant to be held in Byron Bay before 150 guests but it was called off at the last minute, with some guests getting less than a week’s notice of the changed plans.
The halfback, 31, stood down as captain of the Newcastle Knights after it was revealed he sent ‘flirty’ texts to a club staffer
‘For me it’s been a traumatic few weeks for my personal life and those I love,’ Pearce said at a media conference on Thursday
Pearce has quit as captain of the Newcastle Knights, capping off a tumultuous few weeks for the halfback. He and fiancee Kristin Scott (pictured) recently postponed their wedding
‘For me it’s been a traumatic few weeks for my personal life and those I love,’ Pearce said at a media conference on Thursday.
‘Unfortunately my actions have impacted the team and more importantly the people I have closest to me, Kristin and my family.
‘I’m taking steps now to address these issues and I feel it would be in the best interests of the club for me to step down as captain this season.’
He fought back tears as he voiced his love for the Newcastle team and vowed to overcome the embarrassing public incident which has caused a major rift among teammates and his family.
‘I love this club and I love my family and I’m committed to working as hard as I can to be the best man I can be both on and off the field.
‘I’d appreciate some respect moving forward and a bit of time to get back to training.’
Pearce (pictured with his fiancee) has maintained the wedding has not been cancelled, only postponed, and that Covid-related restrictions were to blame
Mitchell Pearce and Kristin Scott are pictured at the Knights’ 2020 presentation night. Pearce is reportedly relinquishing the captaincy to spend more time mending his relationship with his fiancee
Pearce was in Newcastle this week as the club began pre-season training, with the condemnation of Knights’ general manager of football Danny Buderus ringing in his ears.
Buderus, a Knights great, slammed Pearce’s behaviour as ‘not acceptable’ and said the club culture is ‘highly important and we need those players to adhere to that’.
‘There are standards in all parts of our organisation and that behaviour is not acceptable,’ Buderus said.
Pearce was found to have sent the ‘flirty’ text messages to a female staffer after they were discovered by the staffer’s partner and became known to his fiancee.
He told the Daily Telegraph the wedding had not been cancelled, only postponed, and that Covid-related restrictions were to blame.
‘I’m filthy about people spreading rumours,’ he said.
Senior Knights management along with coach Adam O’Brien stood alongside Pearce at the emotional media conference.
‘Maybe that was going to be part of the leadership model moving forward anyway, with getting that pressure off Mitchell to play his own game,’ Buderus said on Monday.
‘Mitchell likes to be captain and if it was to go that way, it would hurt.’
The couple (pictured) began dating early in 2019, with Ms Scott moving to Newcastle to live with Pearce – with the pair opening an exercise studio (pictured). There is no suggestion Pearce had any relations with the young staffer that went beyond a flirty text
Pearce (pictured above) won a premiership with the Roosters in 2013 and is a leading halfback in the NRL, a veteran of 297 NRL games, and a much-valued talent at the Knights
Knights general manager of football Danny Buderus (pictured) previously hinted Pearce may lose the captaincy but had previously thrown his support behind the veteran
Pearce was also expected to front his teammates and explain his behaviour.
‘It definitely needs to be addressed, there’s no doubt about that, when he comes back, otherwise it will fester in among the group,’ Buderus said.
‘Mitch would like it that way. Anyone that walks into that group needs to understand what they’ve all gone through and what the club has gone through and the pressure the club has been under… there needs to be something said and once it’s said, we can all move on.’
The long-term boyfriend of the female staff member uncovered a number of flirtatious messages sent to her by Pearce, it has been reported.
The staff member’s partner, who is reportedly furious over the texts, is said to be friends with several Newcastle Knights players, including forward Lachlan Fitzgibbon.
Ms Scott recently stated ‘everything fell into place’ after meeting Pearce (pictured above) and he gushed that he ‘couldn’t wait’ to get married
Ms Scott shared a picture of herself with Pearce after a State of Origin series win in 2019
In the days leading up to Christmas, Pearce told the Newcastle Herald he was looking forward to the wedding.
‘It will be the best time of our life and I can’t wait,’ he said.
Many people at the Knights credited Scott with helping ‘wild child’ Pearce finally find maturity and stability off the field.
Pearce joined the Knights in 2018 after starting his NRL career with the Sydney Roosters in 2007.
He won a premiership with the the Tricolours in 2013 and has made 19 appearances for NSW in State of Origin, finally winning a series last year.
Senior Knights management along with coach Adam O’Brien stood alongside Pearce at the emotional media conference
Pearce’s show-stopping dramas away from the footy field
2014 – Kings Cross, Sydney – Then with the Sydney Roosters, the halfback was arrested and issued with an infringement notice for failing to leave a licensed premises. Later revealed he made advances to a woman in a ‘yellow dress’ who declined to take the matter further. Fined $20,000 by his club, banned for one match
2016 – Australia Day – Filmed simulating a sex act with a dog in another person’s apartment before declaring he ‘didn’t have’ a sexuality. Fined a whopping $125,000 by the NRL and suspended for eight games
2020 – December – Pearce’s wedding to fiancee Kristin Scott is called off after the footy star is caught sending racy messages to a female staff member at the Newcastle Knights
2021 – January: The halfback stands down as club captain