Pearce buries hatchet after sexting scandal
Newcastle star Lachlan Fitzgibbon has buried the hatchet with teammate Mitchell Pearce after the playmaker cancelled his wedding last year because of flirty text messages between himself and a Knights club employee.
Pearce pulled the plug on his nuptials with fiancee Kristin Scott just days before the ceremony was due to take place on December 29 after alleged inappropriate text messages emerged between himself and a young female club employee - who was also in a relationship at the time.
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Pearce and Scott were due to get married in Byron Bay in front of 150 family and friends and while the footy star initially claimed the decision to cancel was due to COVID-19 restrictions, it was soon revealed the text message exchange was to blame.
Fitzgibbon is a close friend of the club staffer's boyfriend and was reportedly furious at Pearce's actions.
But the back-rower, who admitted he was "angry" when the scandal erupted, said he has "moved on" and is playing nice with Pearce as the Knights hit the training paddock ahead of the new season.
"We are a family here at the Knights and you don't throw one of your family out," Fitzgibbon said, per the Newcastle Herald.
Knights head of football Danny Buderus said earlier this month Pearce would need to address the incident with his teammates to ensure it didn't become a lingering issue within the side.
"It definitely needs to be addressed (immediately) when he comes back … otherwise it can fester among the group," Buderus said. "Something needs to be said and once it's said we can all move on."
Pearce and Fitzgibbon were seen laughing together at a pre-season photo shoot this week, suggesting the pair have kissed and made up and easing concerns about a lasting fallout from the ugly relationship drama.
Pearce has vanished from Scott's Instagram page in the wake of the controversy, ending her desire for publicly sharing photos cuddled up with the former Roosters star.
While Scott has shared photos on her account celebrating her 29th birthday, Christmas and New Year's - Pearce has not been spotted in any of them. Pearce has also deleted his own Instagram account.
The star No. 7 said last month he and Scott were "sorting things out" - but her Instagram cleanse has led to speculation the couple's relationship is now over after the messy, public nature of the scandal.
Pearce earlier described the way the saga played out publicly as "traumatic", as he stepped down from his role as captain.
"For me it's been a traumatic few weeks for my personal life and those I love," he said earlier this month. "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 for me to step down as captain this season.
"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 appreciate a bit of respect moving forward and some time to get back to training."
Newcastle has since announced a five-man leadership group to replace Pearce as captain, including Mitch Barnett, Kalyn Ponga, Daniel Saifiti, Blake Green and Jayden Brailey.
Meanwhile, the Knights announced on Wednesday Pearce was undergoing surgery on his thumb after injuring the digit at training last week.
However, he is not expected to miss any football and will be available for selection for the Knights' Round 1 clash against the Bulldogs on March 12.
Originally published as Pearce buries hatchet after sexting scandal