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Knights captain Mitchell Pearce.

The Newcastle Knights handed the captaincy reins to Mitchell Pearce as they launched their 2019 Telstra Premiership season at NEX on Wednesday evening.

The 29-year-old will take on the senior role as part of a five-man leadership group which includes former co-captain Jamie Buhrer, Aidan Guerra, Tim Glasby and Shaun Kenny-Dowall.

Knights coach Nathan Brown had previously opted for co-captains in 2016 and 2018, while Trent Hodkinson was the sole skipper in 2017.

Pearce arrived at the Knights in 2018 amid plenty of expectation and was appointed co-captain with Jamie Buhrer.

Pearce started the year in style with a golden point field goal to sink Manly in round one but a torn pectoral muscle suffered in round seven meant he was restricted to 15 games.

The former NSW halfback finished the year with two tries, 13 try assists and nine forced dropouts.

Despite missing nine games, he still finished fifth in the Dally M Medal count with 23 votes – six points shy of eventual winner Roger Tuivasa-Sheck.

"Mitch's on-field leadership last year was there for everyone to see," Brown said.

"The way the team responded to his leadership on the field was great and he's continuing to grow as a leader."

Pearce comfortable with carrying weight of captaincy

The Knights also announced an emerging leadership group that they expect will take them into the next decade.

New recruits David Klemmer and James Gavet are part of the leadership team, along with Lachlan Fitzgibbon, Sione Mata'utia, Mitchell Barnett and Slade Griffin.

"We are working very closely with them to ensure the next 10 years of the Newcastle Knights is a tremendous success," Knights CEO Phillip Gardner said.

The Knights have not played finals football since 2013 and begin their quest to break that drought against Cronulla at McDonald Jones Stadium on March 15.

The two sides met last week in a trial game in Maitland and the Sharks won 30-6 so Pearce and his team-mates will be keen to turn that result around.

Acknowledgement of Country

New South Wales Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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