Cronulla-Sutherland coach Shane Flanagan is hopeful forgotten hooker James Segeyaro will sign with the club sooner rather than later as the Sharks become increasingly desperate in their search for a world-class hooker.
Segeyaro left the NRL midway through the 2016 NRL season after falling out of favour at the Penrith Panthers, with the 26-year-old packing his bags and travelling to the UK to sign a two-year deal with English Super League side the Leeds Rhinos.
But Segeyaro has quickly become homesick and it is believed the Rhinos will release him from his contract if an appropriate deal is met.
He would be a perfect fit for the Sharks, with Flanagan's side lacking depth at No.9 after the retirement of Michael Ennis at the end of the 2016 NRL season.
It is now up to Cronulla-Sutherland to sort out a deal that will benefit all parties, and for Flanagan this would ideally happen before his side kicks off their 2017 campaign against the Brisbane Broncos in Round 1.
"I'd like to think we could acquire James Segeyaro in the near future," Flanagan said.
"He needs to sort out what he's doing with Leeds, but I'm hopeful he will be at the Sharks sooner rather than later."
But Segeyaro is not the only option at hooker, with new recruit Manaia Cherrington producing a solid Downer Auckland Nines campaign and a chance to start at hooker if Segeyaro doesn't arrive at the club by the start of the season.
Former Gold Coast Titan Daniel Mortimer missed the Nines, instead starting in his side's 30-12 trial loss to the Broncos on Saturday night.
He failed to impress, with the Sharks' 2016 Holden Cup Player of the Year Jayden Brailey looking more dangerous in attack and much more reliable in defence.
It has ensured a number of headaches for Flanagan who is running out of time to decide who will replace Ennis on a permanent basis.
"The Nines and last weekend's trial match hasn't really helped me decide who will be hooker," Flanagan said.
"Young Jayden Brailey did a good job for us when he was on the field. Daniel Mortimer tried really hard, but he was caught out a few times in defence.
"It's definitely going to be an issue for us and we need to sort it out quickly.
"The World Club Challenge will give us another opportunity to look at the talent we have."
The World Club Challenge will be another trial in a busy pre-season for the Sharks as they try and shake off any premiership hangover.
Despite the heavy schedule, Flanagan said he is happy his squad has had the opportunity to improve their match fitness.
"Our players need the trials. It's a necessary evil. You just have to get through it," he said.
"Some of the bigger boys need that time on the field in the pre-season.
"This time of the year is great because it gives the younger guys a chance to gain some experience."