Will Chambers's immediate and longer-term future is delicately poised after his sledging of Warriors players as the Sharks hit a hurdle in their hunt for a short-term loan playmaker.
Chambers set tongues wagging with his provocation of several Warriors in Saturday's 18-16 loss, in which Kane Evans was sin-binned and subsequently suspended for punching the veteran centre in response to his verbal baiting.
Chambers has accepted a $1150 fine for throwing Viliami Vailea's boot into the stands and has twice in two weeks earned a public rebuke from coach Josh Hannay, who is hardly a fan of sledging from a losing side.
The 31-year-old's starting spot in a crucial clash with Newcastle this Sunday will come under the microscope as much for his recent defensive issues as his on-field conduct.
Chambers has missed 11 tackles in his last two outings and averages almost five a game since joining the Sharks as a much-needed mid-season signing.
Matt Moylan's ongoing bid to return from a calf injury likely holds the key, given utility Connor Tracey was shuffled from centre to five-eighth recently to cover a dearth of halves options.
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The Sharks are also still weighing up whether to table Chambers a 2022 extension given their initial positive impression of the veteran's influence at the club.
Cronulla CEO Dino Mezzatesta declined to comment when contacted by NRL.com on Monday.
It is understood Chambers's off-field impact and professional standards – like chipping teammates if they don't wear proper team kit – have led to him being well regarded by Sharks hierarchy and teammates, especially when he was signed on a bargain basement deal.
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As for the sledging of Evans, it remains unclear what was said to trigger the two punches.
Warriors CEO Cameron George insisted to The Australian on Sunday that Chambers's barb was "very, very, very personal" but did not elaborate beyond that and the club has not raised an official complaint.
NRL head of football Graham Annesley said on Monday that both he and the match review committee were unable to confirm what Chambers had said.
"The match review committee did monitor the referee's audio for any comments that may or may not have been made or any comments … my understanding is they could not determine anything that was said," Annesley said.
"I also looked at and listened to footage from that game using the referee's audio and I couldn't hear anything either.
"That's not to say that nothing was said, it's just that nothing was picked up on the audio.
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"The match review committee can only deal with incidents they believe they have evidence to proceed with and there was nothing there they could find."
The Sharks are still keen to secure a short-term loan playmaker to replace Shaun Johnson but, like several clubs, they have been unable to land a suitable player.
Under the NRL's loan arrangement rules, players can only shift clubs if there are no other options in that position in a club's top-30 roster due to injuries.
Player shortages through suspensions – a scenario faced by the Warriors and Canterbury up front with Evans, Matt Lodge already suspended and Jack Hetherington and Dylan Napa facing bans this weekend – also cannot be covered by loan players.
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Cronulla have been linked to Warriors playmaker Sean O'Sullivan and a temporary homecoming for out-of-favour Bulldog Kyle Flanagan.
But the recent debut of halfback Luke Metcalf, and Moylan's potential return, have Sharks officials pessimistic about their chances of getting a loan deal approved.
So too the fact that "you can only really look at the Bulldogs and Broncos for players" according to one official given the rest of the NRL competition, aside from the Cowboys as well, is still technically in finals reckoning.