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Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Nick Politis.

Roosters boss Nick Politis concedes his club faces an uphill battle retaining over $3 million of grand final winning talent with NRL rivals able to table big-money offers in less than a month. understands the Tricolours have held preliminary contract talks with inspirational forwards Jake Friend and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, which will resume in the next three weeks.

Along with star centres Joey Manu and Latrell Mitchell, the likes of Siosiua Taukeiaho, Brett Morris, Nat Butcher and Mitchell Aubusson all come off-contract in 2020.

Rival clubs are able to officially lodge offers for 2021 as of November 1.

But it's understood negotiations with Kiwi international Manu have progressed to the point where he is likely to be extended before the start of rugby league's new financial year.

Cooper Cronk's retirement and Zane Tetevano's likely exit will free up much-needed salary cap room, while Aubusson is expected to retire when his new one-year deal concludes next year.

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The Roosters cop plenty over the parade of stars they're able to fit in their salary cap – to the point where NRL CEO Todd Greenberg weighed in to declare they manage their roster "better than others" during the grand final week.

Politis though admits that the Tricolours' success will come home to roost in more ways than one.

"We obviously want to keep a winning team together, who wouldn't?" Politis tells

 "But it is really hard with the salary cap.

"Every year we lose a couple. Next year Cooper goes and in our salary cap a few guys will be bumped up and deservedly so.

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"For next year we're all but locked up but the year after we do have six or seven guys coming off-contract [in 2020].

"Over the next two or three months we'll sit down and work out exactly how it all sits. The market is wide open though, we've had it before, and expect it to happen again.

"We don't want to lose anybody, but players will get big offers, and sometimes we're not able to match it."

Friend's injury-plagued 2019 season and the emergence of rookie rake Sam Verrills has prompted questions in some quarters over the co-captain's future.

While the Roosters moved on a favourite son in Mitchell Pearce to accommodate Cronk two years ago, Politis can't see Friend in anything other than red, white and blue.

"He's been with us since he was 16," Politis says.

"He's getting married next year, he's got business opportunities around the area, ask anyone, Jake's the heart and soul of this club."

The Roosters celebrate the 2019 grand final win.
The Roosters celebrate the 2019 grand final win. ©Gregg Porteous/NRL Photos

Mitchell's future though has been a focus for much of 2019, with the powerhouse centre admitting to being frustrated over links to South Sydney and reports of a multi-million-dollar approach from Canterbury.

He has repeatedly stressed his allegiance to the Roosters, with extension talks that were previously put on hold to be broached again now the season is over.

With Mitchell, Manu and Butcher in line for salary upgrades, Politis accepts that the flow-on effects of one player's deal can leave another vulnerable.

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"It's happened regularly, we've got players at plenty of clubs, they've gone elsewhere, they're doing well and earning more money, so good luck to them," Politis says.

"There's Roger [Tuivasa-Sheck], Pearcey, Kane Evans at the Eels, Fergo's [Blake Ferguson] there too, [Ryan] Matterson.

"There's a whole team of Roosters players who have gone on and are doing well. That's part of how we manage our roster.

"Players only have a limited lifespan in football, you can't begrudge someone earning what they can while they can."

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