The Manly Sea Eagles have confirmed they will turn their attention to NSW halfback Mitchell Pearce, who has been granted a release by the Sydney Roosters.
Newly installed Sea Eagles CEO Lyall Gorman spoke to NRL.com after the club released five-eighth Blake Green on Monday.
Green had been contracted for 2018, but can now take up a longer-term deal at another club.
"He's a young player with a big future for himself and his family. This is not a precedent for our club – it's something we look at on a case-by-case basis," Gorman said, adding that Green's release was not directly linked to Pearce.
The NSW halfback hoped he could sort out his playing future in the "next few weeks".
"This hasn’t been an easy decision for me to come to, but I feel that it’s the right one," Pearce said.
"I’ve been with the Roosters since I was 17 and have grown into a man here. I’ve made a lot of close friends at the club, and I’ve always been proud to wear the Roosters jersey. The Roosters club and people there will always mean a lot to me, but I’m looking forward to the opportunity and challenge joining a new club will bring, while continuing to push myself to be the best halfback I can be.
"Now that I’ve made this decision, hopefully I’ll have the rest of my future sorted over the next few weeks."
No other NRL club could talk with Pearce formally until he was free of the Bondi Junction club as he still had two years to run on his contract.
But Gorman confirmed Manly were in the hunt for the 28-year-old playmaker.
"[The Green announcement] is totally unrelated to Pearce but it's obligatory to our club to listen when any talented players are on the market," Gorman said.
"He is an extremely talented player."
Roosters chairman Nick Politis said the club was sad to see Pearce leave.
"Mitchell has been a big part of the Sydney Roosters club for more than a decade. He’s played 11 seasons of NRL and is among the most-capped players in our club’s history," he said.
"We all love Pearcey – he has developed very strong relationships with a number of people at the club and we have been through a lot together. While it would have been great to see him continue to add to his legacy at the Roosters, we respect his decision.
"Mitchell will always be a Rooster, and he leaves with our sincerest thanks and very best wishes."
Roosters coach Trent Robinson thanked Pearce for his contribution to the Tricolours.
"We’ve been through a lot and I have a lot of respect for Junior both as a footballer and as a man," he said.
"He’s a good person who will always have many friends at the club."
Green was a solid contributor in the halves for Manly last season alongside Daly Cherry-Evans after stints at Melbourne, Cronulla, Parramatta and Canterbury.
"The club has been advised that Blake has received an opportunity to continue his NRL career elsewhere over the next few years and in the interest of Blake and his family's long-term future, has agreed to release him now,'' Gorman said.
"We are comfortable with this decision as Blake is off contract at the end of the 2018 season and we are unsure of the likelihood of his contract being extended past that period.
"By granting his request, it enables Blake and his young family the chance to secure their future and at the same time give our club the opportunity to go into the market to find the right replacement for him.
"We wish Blake and his family all the best and thank him for his valuable contribution to the club on and off the field during his time with us."