Barrett has no regrets over Sea Eagles No.6 saga
Manly Sea Eagles coach Trent Barrett maintains he has no regrets over releasing Blake Green despite the ongoing salary cap saga that looks set to cost his club another possible five-eighth in Trent Hodkinson.
The NRL has granted Manly a second extension to respond to preliminary findings of alleged salary cap breaches that were first levelled in December.
The club now has until February 5 to submit an official response, but out-of-favour Knights veteran Hodkinson could well commit his future elsewhere beforehand, with Cronulla understood to have a one-year deal ready to be tabled to the former NSW Origin halfback.
Barrett has reiterated his interest in luring Hodkinson to the Northern Beaches, but despite insisting "we have got the money", cannot confirm an offer until the NRL hands down any punishment around the breaches.
Green, 31, was released by Manly with a year remaining on his contract to take up a three-year deal with the Warriors, while the Sea Eagles subsequently lost out in their pursuit of Mitchell Pearce.
"They were unusual circumstances," Barrett said of Green's exit on Sky Sports Radio's Big Breakfast.
"You can look at it two ways, you can look at it as a bit of a risk to let him go without a replacement locked in.
"But it was also a risk for me in terms of the functioning of the team if you had a player here who had an opportunity to set his family up for the next three or four years, who made it quite clear to us that he didn't want to be here given the opportunity that was in front of him.
"It was a difficult one for me and one we stewed over for a couple of months.
"In the end, we made a decision and if I look back now, no I wouldn't change the decision, I'm really happy with how it worked."
Hodkinson's manager David Riolo last week returned from an overseas holiday allowing talks with Cronulla to ramp up.
The amount of freight paid by the Knights on the final year of the 29-year-old's contract is understood to be a sticking point in the negotiations, however Newcastle have stressed previously that they won't stand in Hodkinson's way should he secure a deal elsewhere and have reportedly pre-paid a large portion of his $850,000 pay packet with spare space in last year's salary cap.
Regardless, Barrett is backing a cohort of young playmakers to fill the No.6 void left by Green, anointing recent Canberra Raiders recruit Lachlan Croker as the front-runner.
"We're going to have a young guy in there, possibly Lachlan Croker, who has done everything right for the last three months," Barrett said.
Last week Croker told NRL.com of his bid to fill a similar organisational role as Green, one Barrett believes is currently beyond one-time rugby union prodigy Tom Wright, who the coach sees as a centre at this stage in his development.
Asked if he was confident that Croker would be partnering skipper Daly Cherry-Evans at the scrumbase, Barrett responded: "I am. We're going to tinker with a few things… Lachlan so far, he's done everything right and handled everything we've thrown at him."
Off-season recruit Joel Thompson sent a minor injury scare through the Manly camp on Tuesday when he suffered an ankle injury which saw him placed in a precautionary moon boot.
A club spokesman said: "Sea Eagles medical staff are monitoring and are not overly concerned. Staff are hopeful for him to be full training tomorrow or Friday at the latest."
Barrett also confirmed Jake Trbojevic is on track to play in one of the club's pre-season trials having recovered from a torn pec at the World Cup.
Centre Dylan Walker is expected to return by round four after suffering a broken leg and dislocated ankle playing for the Prime Ministers XIII in Papua New Guinea last year.