Newcastle halfback Mitchell Pearce has handed in a release request to the club following increased speculation over his future.
Pearce has been heavily linked with a move away from the NRL, with Super League club Catalans Dragons hopeful he will replace the retired James Maloney after they made their maiden grand final.
Catalans football manager Alex Chan had told AAP on Monday they were confident Pearce, who has just one year remaining on his contract at Newcastle, would be granted a release.
"We've shown we are interested in him, but it comes down to whether Newcastle are prepared to let him go early," Chan said.
That might come to fruition sooner than expected with Newcastle powerbrokers meeting with the playmaker earlier this week.
On Wednesday the club confirmed the halfback had presented them with an official request, with both parties now expected to iron out the conditions of his exit.
"The Newcastle Knights can confirm an official request has been received from Mitchell Pearce regarding an immediate release from the final year of his contract," a statement read.
"The Knights have agreed to consider the request, with both parties respectfully agreeing to make no further comment until an outcome is determined.
"Discussions between Pearce and the club remain productive, with both parties focused on achieving a positive outcome while maintaining the great relationship that currently exists."
The Knights said while there was no timeline on agreeing to the request, the likelihood is Pearce will begin 2022 by playing Super League in France.
The No. 7, who has played 309 games for the Roosters and the Knights, has endured a difficult 12 months in Newcastle.
He stood down from the captaincy after the cancellation of his wedding and was restricted to just 12 games due to injury.
Australian Associated Press