St George Illawarra coach Paul McGregor remains hopeful representative Dragons lock Trent Merrin will re-sign with the club when his current deal expires at the end of the 2015 season – despite the 25-year-old knocking back the richest deal for a forward in the club's history.
While McGregor would love to have Merrin around past next season, the former NSW and Australian centre has left it up to the Dragons' director of recruitment and retention Peter Mulholland and Merrin's manager Wayne Beavis to come up with a solution.
"It's a pretty tough decision and I'm a bit like I suppose how Trent is. Trent has to let his manager do his best and I've got to do what my recruitment manager does for the club," McGregor told reporters this week.
"That's the way rugby league is these days. Both Peter [Mulholland] and Wayne [Beavis] are doing their jobs and looking after their clients… and hopefully in some way, shape or form it works out for both parties.
"I hope he stays. But it's not up to me – it's up to his boss and my boss so to speak."
McGregor praised the recent form of Merrin – who has made 10 State of Origin appearances off the bench for NSW – but said the workhorse forward can still improve despite playing more than 100 NRL games.
"I think Trent… hasn't totally reached his full potential. He's played for his state for numerous years and he's in the top epsilon of players," he said.
"But if you ask Trent if his game needs to improve he'd say yes and I think as a coach I'll say the same. Do I rate Trent Merrin as a player though? Absolutely – I think he's fantastic."
As the contract negotiations continue McGregor said was no need for him and Merrin to put aside any differences – because there weren't any.
"I've got no problems with Trent and Trent has no problems with me," he said.
"He knows rugby league is a business and he knows exactly what I'm about and what I'm trying to show here and he accepts that.
"We talk everyday consistently and that's never changed – we have known each other for a very long time and our friendship won't break from that."
While the Dragons are desperate to re-sign Merrin, McGregor reaffirmed that the club won't stand in his way if he were to leave or offload any bigger names like winger Jason Nightingale to accommodate for the Shellharbour Sharks junior.