Merrin gives up NRL return amid player market stalemate

Former NSW and Test forward Trent Merrin has told Leeds he will return to the UK, scuppering the prospect of an NRL comeback in 2020 for now.

Merrin was given permission by the Rhinos to explore his options in Australia last month on compassionate grounds and met with Newcastle and St George Illawarra in that time.

However, it's understood neither club was able to table a deal anywhere near the lucrative, four-year contract Leeds signed Merrin on when he left Penrith at the end of 2018.

The Dragons' uncertainty around Jack de Belin's future hampered negotiations around bringing Merrin back to his junior club.

The 30-year-old is expected to be back on deck with the Rhinos when their pre-season kicks off on November 4.

Merrin's return to Super League comes amid a contract stalemate across the NRL, with several clubs waiting for the first domino to fall in another expected frantic post-season player market.

Wests Tigers were linked to Cronulla playmaker Matt Moylan on Tuesday as a possible circuit breaker, a move that would allow the Sharks to ease their salary cap woes and precipitate Ryan Matterson's release.

Matterson has met with Parramatta with negotiations progressing positively between the two parties, however, the Tigers are determined not to grant the disgruntled forward a release unless they get something from the development.

It's understood a Tigers official made contact with Moylan last week to gauge his interest in a move to Concord, with an eye to replacing Benji Marshall in the halves when the club legend eventually retires.

Moylan is contracted to Cronulla until the end of 2021, with both he and his manager rebuffing the Tigers approach.

Neither have been sounded out by the Sharks about offloading the former Panther.

The Sharks have been attempting to free up salary cap space for some time to bring Jesse Ramien back to the club after his late-season release from Newcastle.

NRL.com understands that prop Matt Prior and star centre Josh Dugan have been given permission to negotiate elsewhere despite being contracted for 2020 and 2021 respectively.

Prior, 32, has attracted interest from NRL rivals as well as Super League suitors including Leeds.

The 2016 premiership winner is believed to be open to an overseas move given the possibility of landing a bigger deal in the UK.

None of the clubs have made any official statements regarding potential moves.