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Cowboys weigh into Finucane fight with two-year offer

North Queensland is the first club to table a formal offer to Storm co-captain Dale Finucane with a two-year deal presented as several rivals continue to circle the NSW Origin lock.

While Melbourne have been at pains to stress their priority of keeping Finucane beyond 2021, a tight salary cap and glut of top-flight forwards has the 29-year-old as arguably the most attractive big man still on the market.

NRL.com understands the Cowboys have recently weighed in with a two-year contract as Todd Payten continues to reshape his roster in Townsville.

No official comment has been made by North Queensland or Melbourne on Finucane's future.

Along with the Cowboys, Newcastle have made contact with Finucane's camp while the Wests Tigers are another outfit weighing up a bid for his services.

Finucane gets a try of his own

Intrinsic to any pursuit of Finucane by both clubs though is similar interest in Brisbane's Tevita Pangai jnr for the Tigers, while the Knights have also considered an attempt to lure South Sydney's Dane Gagai back to Newcastle.

Finucane is understood to have also met Dragons officials including Anthony Griffin in late April.

St George Illawarra's interest came as they awaited an outcome in Jack de Belin's criminal trial, and has since dropped off now he is available to play NRL again.

Quick ball from Finucane provides for Munster

Finucane's preference has long been to finish his career at the Storm, but he is well aware of the club's salary cap constraints and has previously indicated he would like to land a three-year deal as his next contract.

His successful return from a calf tear earlier this year led to Finucane being called into Brad Fittler's extended Origin II squad, but did not get to add to his four Blues appearances in the past two seasons.  

Bellamy described Finucane as "one player I'd hate to lose" at the start of the month, delivering a hefty assessment when he said "I've never seen anyone that sets a better standard on and off the field than Dale".

Finucane is one of five Storm players returning from Origin camp for Thursday's bumper clash against the Roosters in Newcastle.

Bellamy reported fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen's concussion recovery has progressed significantly and he could be back in round 18, with the fan favourite "doing a lot more with the team than in previous weeks".

While Maroons stars Christian Welch and Felise Kaufusi may yet be rested for the round 16 game, Bellamy was quick to defend five-eighth Cameron Munster after he was criticised for sliding into James Tedesco with his knees as he chased a kick in Origin II.

Bellamy welcomes Papenhuyzen and Hynes ‘headache’ conundrum

Munster was cited on-field but not charged by the match review committee, having already paid two fines for kicking out at opponents in the past month.

The second of those incidents on Warriors captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck prompted Bellamy to tell his marquee man to "rein it in", but he took issue with the latest round of Munster critics.

"He’s a competitive monster, as everyone knows," Bellamy said.

"A couple of times he has been over the top, we all put our hand up to say that and Cameron does as well.

"But I thought the criticism from Sunday night’s game was a little bit unfair.

"I thought the incident the other day that everyone was talking about – I thought both players were going for the ball and Munster pulled up, if he hadn’t done that he could have put James [Tedesco] in more danger."