Cronulla's Magic Round clash with South Sydney shapes as a critical juncture for several Sharks big-earners – with Rabbitohs No.7 Adam Reynolds holding the key to their roster rebuild.
Reynolds will push to return from a thumb injury against the Sharks on Saturday after participating in limited catch and pass drills at Monday's training.
The star half continues to weigh up lucrative three-year offers from Cronulla and Brisbane next season, with the Sharks understood to have tabled a revised, increased deal to his management on Monday.
Both the Broncos and Sharks offers are believed to be in the same $800,000-a-year vicinity after both clubs baulked at suggestions of a four-year tenure for Reynolds, who turns 31 in July.
His looming decision on his future in turn impacts opposing half Shaun Johnson, with Cronulla holding fire on several roster moves until they receive an answer from Reynolds.
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Johnson is facing a significant pay cut from his estimated $800,000-salary to stay at the Sharks, while he has also been in talks with Brisbane as they target an experienced playmaker to rebuild around.
The curve ball in Johnson's next career move is Japanese rugby, with current Roosters advisor and ex-Wallabies coach Michael Cheika meeting with the Kiwi international recently regarding a surprise code switch.
Cheika has been linked to a Japanese shift himself in a rugby director's role at NEC Green Rockets, with rugby types noting his comments regarding Johnson as a "triple threat" in The Sunday Telegraph with interest.
Adding another layer of intrigue to the halves market is George Williams' desire to cut short his Canberra stay and return home to the UK at the end of the season.
The Raiders remain steadfast in their position that Williams will not be released early unless a suitable replacement can be found, with Canberra officials indicating to NRL.com there is little appetite for the playmakers currently available in the market.
Williams raised his homesickness issues with the club three weeks ago and is respectful of the position an early exit would leave Canberra in.
He is believed to be earning around $600,000 but the Raiders preference is to work through his personal matters despite suggestions UK outfit Warrington have a deal at the ready for him.
Meanwhile out-of-favour pair Josh Dugan and Andrew Fifita are both in line for first grade returns against the Rabbitohs as injuries pile more pain on top of five straight losses.
Dugan is expected to come in for Jesse Ramien – who is out for at least a month with a fractured eye socket – as he plays for his own future.
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The ex-Test and NSW Origin star turned 31 on Monday and is considered unlikely to land a new deal at the Sharks, while his own interest in Japanese rugby has not been manifested in any talks with overseas clubs.
Fifita too has put the prospect of an overseas move to bed, with Wakefield Trinity's recent offer for him to join brother David at the club left untouched.
Injuries to Braden Hamlin-Uele (ankle) and Royce Hunt (knee), as well as Siosifa Talakai's suspension have Fifita in line for an NRL return this week after serving his own three-game ban from NSW Cup duties.
Fifita's lucrative Cronulla contract runs until the end of 2022 and looms as a critical element of incoming coach Craig Fitzgibbon's roster reshaping given he was dropped from NRL duties by John Morris at the start of the year and is yet to see top grade action since.