Mitchell Moses has reinforced his desire to stay at Parramatta as he and Adam Reynolds loom as the lynchpins in a $5 million-dollar game of musical playmakers.
Moses is understood to have three weeks to take up a 2022 player option in his Eels contract, though his management and the club have also been in discussions around a two-year deal taking in next season and 2023.
He and Reynolds present as the most attractive halves in a market that includes Anthony Milford, Tom Dearden, Shaun Johnson, Matt Moylan, Scott Drinkwater, Ash Taylor, Corey Norman, Benji Marshall and Sam Walker.
Aside from youngsters Dearden, Drinkwater and Walker, who is expected to stay put at the Roosters, and Marshall who is already on a bargain deal at Souths, the majority of the free agent halves face contract downgrades based on middling form since their last deals were negotiated.
Brisbane and Cronulla in turn shape as the most active clubs after Chad Townsend's shift to North Queensland next year, though Johnson's return from injury this weekend will also dictate the Sharks' roster approach.
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The prospect of signing Reynolds is understood to have been discussed internally by the Sharks and Broncos as he looks for a two- or three-year deal that the Rabbitohs have steadfastly declined to offer the 2014 premiership winner.
The 30-year-old's preference is to keep his young family in Sydney if he ends up leaving Redfern, a key factor in his talks with North Queensland stalling.
Moses is also reportedly on Brisbane's radar as officials look to fend off the Cowboys' pursuit of Dearden, who is understood to have fielded a three-year offer to join Townsend in Townsville next season.
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With 156 games to his name at 26, which is four years younger than Reynolds, it could be argued Moses is the most attractive playmaker in the market.
However he is believed to have a top-of-the-market price tag on his services, which may scupper any interest on Brisbane's behalf given their own salary cap juggling to retain Dearden and fellow young guns Kotoni Staggs and Xavier Coates.
Moses and Eels coach Brad Arthur have an honest, strong bond after a 2018 directive that the halfback was free to leave the club led to him responding with improved form.
"I'd love to stay at the Eels, that's my main thing, I've made that clear to them but that's up them now if they want to keep me or if my management will sort it all out," he said.
"When my management have a contract ready to go they'll let me know.
"The club and my management are working through it at the moment."
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Moses leads Parramatta against the Broncos in Darwin on Friday opposite Dearden.
Parramatta officials have maintained their desire to keep Moses as they manage similar negotiations around teammates Ryan Matterson and Nathan Brown, who are also yet to take up 2022 Eels options in their favour.
The club is understood to have discussed longer-term deals with Matterson and Brown as well.
The trio form a core of Arthur's squad that has been together some time now and as a result, has come under scrutiny for being unable to progress past the second week of finals in three of the past four seasons.
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Premiership pacts have not been uncommon among strong teams in previous years, but Moses said no serious discussions about staying together long term have taken place at the Eels.
"The ultimate goal is to get a premiership, but everyone is different," Moses said.
"Everyone is in a different situation and different ages, all those types of things.
"It gets tossed around every now and then but nothing in depth, the way footy is at the moment everyone looks after themselves and that's how it is."