The Warriors are adamant they cannot improve their reduced one-year extension offer for Kiwi international Issac Luke as Newcastle move to lure him back across the ditch in 2019.
Luke met with Knights coach Nathan Brown last week while he was in camp with the All Blacks, and is believed to be weighing up a two-year deal from next season.
Newcastle have cash to spend and already boast two New Zealand Test hookers on their books in Slade Griffin and Danny Levi, but the former is sidelined until the middle of next season with a horrific ACL rupture.
Despite suggestions the deal was signed and sealed on Tuesday, Brown told NRL.com that "there is still a bit of a process to go through yet if it is to happen", though negotiations continue to progress.
Brown is an unabashed fan of Luke's running game, and is not overly concerned by the shoulder surgery he is booked in for next week given the Warriors hooker played through the injury through the latter half of the club's finals run.
While the Warriors say they have not had any further indication on where Luke's future lies, it's understood that bench utility Jazz Tevaga has this week agreed to terms on a contract extension beyond 2018.
Highly-rated young hooker Nathaniel Roache is touted as Luke's long-term replacement should he take up Newcastle's interest, while Tevaga's retention and Karl Lawton are the club's other likely options.
"Our offer's on the table, we've offered [Luke] a deal for another year and that's the best offer we can make with our salary cap," Warriors CEO Cameron George said.
"His manager's been working that through for the last month or and whether Issac's received a better offer elsewhere, we haven't heard that.
"I know he wanted to stay here, he's always been clear on that and that he's enjoyed his team here and Issac's a big part of that. But the salary cap reality has spoken in our sense and he's got to do what's best for him and his family."
The recruitment of Tohu Harris, Blake Green, Adam Blair and big-money extensions for Roger Tuivas-Sheck and Shaun Johnson has left the Warriors with little room to move in their salary cap next year.
Luke, 31, has been a revelation this year after two listless seasons since returning to New Zealand from South Sydney on a lucrative deal in 2016.
While negotiations between the Kiwi franchise and Luke have been ongoing for some months, it's understood the Warriors' offer for 2019 would require him to take a healthy pay cut to stay in Auckland.
Luke's strong family ties are also a key factor in any decision he makes on his future, but he is also willing to move back to Australia if it means a longer term deal to further his career.
Meanwhile the Knights are also bidding to lure Warriors back-up half Mason Lino to the Hunter as well, with a two-year deal tabled.
Lino, a two-time Samoan international with 17 NRL games to his name, is currently weighing up the offer with the expectation the Warriors will release him from his 2019 contract.