The Newcastle Knights are standing firm on their decision to refuse young halfback Jack Cogger an immediate release after he signed a two-year deal with the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs.
On Tuesday the Newcastle Herald reported the rising talent had signed with the Dogs from 2019 and posted an image of Cogger's contract.
The 20-year-old has played eight games for the Knights and is contracted until the end of the 2018 season but faces an uphill battle to feature in the Telstra Premiership campaign with Mitchell Pearce, Connor Watson, Trent Hodkinson and Brock Lamb considered ahead of him.
Knights coach Nathan Brown has made no secret the club would not stand in the way of Hodkinson if he can secure a deal elsewhere, but the prospect of losing both the former Blues halfback and Cogger before a ball is kicked was not an option.
Newcastle faced an opposite dilemma last season with the club attempting to lure new recruit Kalyn Ponga 12 months ahead of schedule after signing him on a long-term deal, only for the North Queensland Cowboys to deny the request for an early release.
Newcastle's healthy salary cap position is also a factor in the decision, with the club in no rush to shed players for the upcoming season.
Cogger's exit at the Knights is a somewhat of a homecoming for the gifted No.7, who was born in Greenacre and has developed a strong relationship with new Bulldogs coach Dean Pay during his time at NSW under-20s level.
Pay has already signalled his intentions of a shake-up at Belmore with Moses Mbye set for a switch to fullback this season as Matt Frawley and Nu Brown battle it out for a spot alongside Kieran Foran in the halves for the first round.