South Sydney will be given the last chance to answer any final offer as Brisbane and Cronulla ramp up their pursuits of Adam Reynolds, while fellow off-contract gun Mitchell Moses edges closer to finalising his future.
Another blue-chip outing for Reynolds in Thursday's triumph over Canberra had iconic No.7s Andrew Johns and Johnathan Thurston in disbelief that the Rabbitohs are prepared to let their skipper exit at season's end as Cronulla and Brisbane circle.
The Broncos have long made Reynolds their No.1 recruitment target and in turn are understood to have prepared a two- or three-year deal to lure him north as the experienced playmaker so desperately needed at Red Hill.
Media reports out of Queensland on Friday have indicated coach Kevin Walters is ready to personally table that offer to the 30-year-old half by flying to Sydney to meet Reynolds over the weekend.
Brisbane's reported bid to up the ante with Reynolds comes as the Sharks await an answer on a lucrative three-year deal of their own after he met incoming coach Craig Fitzgibbon this week.
Both approaches are tipped to push past the $2 million mark, with Cronulla holding the added appeal of Reynolds not needing to shift his young family interstate.
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Throughout months of focus on Reynolds's future, the Rabbitohs have maintained they will only offer him a one-year 2022 deal, with the potential for rolling extension talks every 12 months.
Souths officials say that is as far as they're willing to go given the club's tight salary cap and impressive crop of young halves.
CEO Blake Solly confirmed on Friday that "our offer is still open", and it is understood Reynolds's junior club will be given last crack at retaining him before any rival deal is signed.
Despite Thurston expressing the view held by many across the game in Channel Nine commentary during the Rabbitohs victory - "I can’t believe he’s not signed, a local junior, he’s played all his footy there and a premiership-winning halfback and he’s on the open market" - Souths remain steadfast on their position.
Cronulla's pursuit of Reynolds puts current halves Shaun Johnson and Matt Moylan squarely in the crosshairs at the club as Fitzgibbon works through a 2022 roster overhaul with recruitment staff.
Johnson is believed to be the club's retention priority, though not at his current salary, estimated at around $800,000.
Should the Broncos fall short in their chase of Reynolds, Johnson looms as the next cab off the ranks.
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Brisbane's ongoing retention talks with Kotoni Staggs – who has been sized up as a potential future five-eighth option – are expected to conclude next week as well in the face of interest from Parramatta.
Given a lucrative three or four-year deal has been discussed with Staggs, his decision will in turn impact where the Broncos head next in the market.
"Kotoni, he's got to come up with a decision for the club and we're waiting on that before we can progress forward with any other signings or recruitment moves for the club," Walters said on Thursday.
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"I believe he is [staying] but until we get that signature …"
Staggs remains under investigation by the NRL Integrity Unit over an alleged incident at a Brisbane nightspot over the Easter long weekend.
Moses too has been linked to Red Hill, but remains in dialogue with Parramatta around an extension beyond his current 2022 option.
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The gun playmaker has another two weeks to take up that option, which would allow him to re-enter the market in 12 months time when a 17th Brisbane-based franchise could well be an attractive suitor.
The Eels have an upcoming recruitment and retention committee meeting, at which a two-year extension for Moses, as well as the club's pursuit of Staggs, is high on the agenda.
"What I do know is that the club is desperate to keep him and Mitchell wants to stay," coach Brad Arthur said on Friday.
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"These things take a bit of time and hopefully gets sorted out soon.
"We want him at the club, he wants to be at the club he's worked hard to help us turn things around and he's a big part of what we want to do moving forward.
"I'm not too sure around the money situation part of it. And I'm sure there's plenty of people that are interested in Mitchell.
"But Mitchell enjoys being here, he wants to play good football, he feels like he can play good football here."
The playmaking shake-up across the game has gathered pace since Cronulla premiership-winner Chad Townsend's shift to North Queensland next season acted as a contract circuit breaker.
Since then the Cowboys have secured 20-year-old Bronco Tom Dearden as his offsider next season, while Brisbane have decided internally to go all-in on a top-level playmaker.
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Among those halves still yet to sort their future beyond this season is rookie sensation Sam Walker, though he is being sized for a long-term deal at the Roosters and has no intention of leaving.
Elsewhere, Scott Drinkwater, Anthony Milford, Corey Norman and Ash Taylor remain off contract, while Kodi Nikorima took up his 2022 player option with the Warriors on Friday.
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