EXCLUSIVE: Cronulla have joined Manly in pursuit of out-of-favour Newcastle halfback Trent Hodkinson.
With Hodkinson on good money at the Knights and spoiled for option in the halves, the 29-year-old is expected to find a new club in 2018.
The Sea Eagles have made no secret of their desire to bring him back to the club after releasing Blake Green to join the Warriors but the uncertainty around their salary cap has muddied the waters.
Get the latest NRL player movement news and a full list of off-contract players at our NRL Market Watch page!
Now the Sharks have joined the race for his signature.
Sharks coach Shane Flanagan confirmed to foxsports.com.au that the club has spoken to Hodkinson’s management about signing the former NSW playmaker on a one-year-deal with his team in the market for an experienced back-up to join their roster.
“It’s really out of our hands,” Flanagan said.
“It’s Newcastle, Trent and his manager. We’re definitely on the lookout for another half. We’ve only really got one of our younger ones, Jack Williams, who has been out injured for a while.
“We need a bit of security there in case of long-term injury. We are on the lookout for a half, if needed can jump in there straight away and Trent probably falls into that category.”
While Flanagan’s 19-year-old son Kyle is a member of the fulltime squad and a consideration come injury or the Origin period, the coach wants more cover.
The departure of Fa’amanu Brown to Canterbury has left the Sharks short and while they aren’t locked into Hodkinson being the guy to fill the void, they are actively exploring the market.
“If we had an injury in the halves and Kyle had to play the whole year, that’s a big ask on a kid,” he said.
“We’ve had the luxury of Nu Brown over the last couple of the years slotting in seamlessly.
“We never missed a beat, so we need that type of player. Trent fits is at the other end of his career but could fill in for half a dozen games if required.
“I think he’s got some offers elsewhere. We’re not locked in that it’s got to be Trent. We’re on the lookout for another half. We need three plus a young one on the up.”
Meanwhile, Michael Morgan is expected to become the next half to join the $1 million club as he headlines the list of halves off-contract this season.
North Queensland has 17 top line talents off-contract this season including the likes of Jake Granville, Lachlan Coote and Ethan Lowe but its Morgan’s signature which is the hottest property.
With Johnathan Thurston already signalling this year would be his last in the NRL, the retention of Morgan is of the utmost importance.
While there are options on the market including the likes of Blake Austin, Kane Elgey, Brock Lamb, Jackson Hastings, Aidan Sezer, the Cowboys are keen to extend Morgan’s deal.
Having recently returned to training, negotiations will ramp up as the season approaches.
“It’s been spoken about but nothing to the extent of a deal being done or anything like that,” Morgan said.
“It’s more the club’s told me that they’re interested and want me to stay so I’m sure in the next few weeks, it’ll start picking up again.
“Because I was away (and) my manager was away, everyone was on holidays, the club sort of shut down for a little bit. Everything came to a halt.
“I’m not worried about it. We’ll pick it up when they want to.
The 26-year-old Australian and Queensland Origin representative is coming off a career best season.
While there’s no doubt that club’s will be lining up for his signature, where do the Cowboys rank?
“At the moment I probably think so, yeah,” he admitted when asked if the Cowboys were favourites to keep him.
“I’m happy here. I just want to stay playing with Jason (Taumalolo).”
Earlier in the week, $10 million man Taumalolo declared he wanted to play out his career next to Morgan.
Having inked a new deal last year, a staggering 10-year contract, Taumalolo was a crucial signature for the future of the club.
This year the priority is Morgan.
A local product and newly engaged, this contract looms as his most important yet.
While talks have been put on hold for the moment, the playmaker joked that there may be little salary cap space available following Taumalolo’s deal.
“I don’t know if there’s any money left because Jason took it all,” he kidded.
“I don’t know if you remember his big deal he signed, we’ve all just got to do our best now (and) play for a pie and Coke.”
Below are the most accurate and up to date movements ahead of the 2018 season:
Off contract: Mitchell Dodds
Gains: Jack Bird (Sharks), Andre Savelio (Warrington), Troy Dargan (Eels), Patrick Mago (Cowboys), Myles Taueli (Redcliffe), Jake Turpin (Storm), Matt Lodge (Redcliffe), Sam Tagataese (Sharks), Shaun Nona (Wynnum Manly)
Losses: Jai Arrow (Titans), Adam Blair (Warriors), Herman Ese’ese (Knights), Ben Hunt (Dragons), Matiu Love-Henry (Warriors), Benji Marshall (Tigers), Tautau Moga (Knights), David Mead (Catalans), Travis Waddell (Souths Logan), Joe Boyce (Townsville Blackhawks), Mitchell Cronin (Wynnum)
Re-Signed: George Fai (2019), Alex Glenn (2019), Jamayne Isaako (2018), Jordan Kahu (2020), Andrew McCullough (2021), Josh McGuire (2021), David Mead (2018), Anthony Milford (2021), Kodi Nikorima (2020), Corey Oates (2018), Joe Ofahengaue (2019), Jonus Pearson (2019), Marion Seve (2018), James Roberts (2021), Patrick Carrigan (2019), Fanitesi Niu (2020), Darius Boyd (2021), Todd Murphy (2018), Sam Scarlett (2018)
Off contract: Bill Cullen (train and trial)
2018 Gains: Charlie Gubb (Warriors), Sam Williams (Wakefield), Cooper Bambling (Mackay), Corey Horsburgh (Cowboys), Brad Abbey (Bulldogs), Craig Garvey (Bulldogs), Siliva Havili (Dragons), Stefano Hala (Panthers)
2018 Losses: Scott Sorensen (Sharks), Dave Taylor (Toronto), Jeff Lima (retired), Lachlan Croker (Sea Eagles), Clay Priest (Bulldogs), Brent Naden (Knights), Eddie Aiono (Wentworthville), Erin Clark (released), Kurt Baptiste (Leigh)
Re-Signed: Jarrod Croker (2020), Joey Leilua (2020), Jordan Rapana (2019), Elliot Whitehead (2020), Jack Wighton (2020), Masivesi Dakuwaqa (2018), Nic Cotrick (2020), Josh Hodgson (2022)
Off contract: Andy Saunders, Chase Stanley
2018 Gains: Fa’amanu Brown (Sharks), Kieran Foran (Warriors), Ofahiki Ogden (Warriors), Aaron Woods (Wests Tigers), Clay Priest (Raiders), Mason Cerruto (Panthers), Jarred Anderson (Roosters)
2018 Losses: James Graham (Dragons), Sam Kasiano (Storm), Richard Kennar (Rabbitohs), Josh Reynolds (Wests Tigers), Tyrone Phillips (Panthers), Brad Abbey (Raiders), Adam Keighran (Panthers), Craig Garvey (Raiders), Brenko Lee (Titans), Manaia Rudolph (Redcliffe), Rod Griffin (Townsville)
Re-Signed: Adam Elliott (2020), Danny Fualalo (2019), Kerrod Holland (2020), Will Hopoate (2020), Marcelo Montoya (2020), Reimis Smith (2019), Renouf To’omaga (2020), Aiden Tolman (2020), Michael Lichaa (2019)
Off contract: None
2018 Gains: Josh Dugan (Dragons), Aaron Gray (Rabbitohs), Ava Seumanufagai (Tigers), Scott Sorensen (Raiders), Braden Uele (Cowboys), Matt Moylan (Panthers)
2018 Losses: Gerard Beale (Warriors), Jack Bird (Broncos), Fa’amanu Brown (Bulldogs), Chris Heighington (Knights), Jeremy Latimore (Dragons), Adam Clydsdale (retirement), Jayden Walker (Panthers), Tony Williams (Eels), Sam Tagataese (Broncos)
Re-Signed: Kurt Capewell (2019), Kurt Dillon (2018), Sosaia Feki (2019), Andrew Fifita (2022), Paul Gallen (2018), Wade Graham (2019), Valentine Holmes (2019), Luke Lewis (2018), Billy Magoulias (2019), Joseph Paulo (2018), Matt Prior (2020), Chad Townsend (2020), Blayke Brailey (2019), Patrick Carrigan (2019)
Off contract: William Zillman
2018 Gains: Jai Arrow (Broncos), Brendan Elliot (Knights), Kiah Cooper (Roosters), Mitch Rein (Panthers), Jack Stockwell (Knights), Leilani Latu (Panthers), Will Matthews (Dragons), Michael Gordon (Roosters), Brenko Lee (Bulldogs)
2018 Losses: Chris McQueen (Tigers), Nathaniel Peteru (Leeds), Leivaha Pulu (Warriors), Tyrone Roberts (Wolves), Daniel Vidot (retired), Pat Vaivai (Leigh), Agnatius Paasi (Warriors), Ben Nakubuwai (Salford), Brenton Lawrence (retired), Jarryd Hayne (Eels), Dan Sarginson (Wigan), Eddy Pettybourne (Toulouse)
Re-Signed: Konrad Hurrell (2019), Ryan James (2020), Karl Lawton (2020), Nathan Peats (2020), Phillip Sami (2020), Paterika Vaivai (2018), Morgan Boyle (2020), Ryan Simpkins (2018), Ash Taylor (until 2021)
Off contract: Billy Bainbridge
2018 Gains: Jack Gosiewski (Rabbitohs), Toafofoa Sipley (Warriors), Lachlan Croker (Raiders), Joel Thompson (Dragons)
2018 Losses: Brenton Lawrence (Titans/retired), Blake Green (Warriors), Cameron Cullen (Redcliffe), Pita Godinet (Tigers)
Re-Signed: Manase Fainu (2019), Addin Fonua-Blake (2020), Brad Parker (2019), Jorge Taufua (2019), Frank Winterstein (2019), Kelepi Tanginoa (2018), Tom Wright (2019)
Off contract: Charlie Galo
2018 Gains: Ryan Hoffman (Warriors), Sam Kasiano (Bulldogs), Patrick Kaufusi (Cowboys), Ryan Papenhuyzen (Tigers), Sandor Earl (NRL suspension), Billy Walters (Sunshine Coast)
2018 Losses: Cooper Cronk (Roosters), Jesse Arthars (Rabbitohs), Slade Griffin (Knights), Tohu Harris (Warriors), Jordan McLean (Cowboys), Jake Turpin (Norths), Mark Nicholls (Rabbitohs), Robbie Rochow (Wests Tigers), Nate Myles (retired), Jeremy Hawkins (Redcliffe), Vincent Leuluai (Rabbitohs)
Re-Signed: Josh Addo-Carr (2021), Nelson Asofa-Solomona (2019), Cheyse Blair (2020), Jesse Bromwich (2022), Kenny Bromwich (2020), Will Chambers (2020), Brodie Croft (2020), Dale Finucane (2021), Jahrome Hughes (2020), Ryley Jacks (2018), Felise Kaufusi (2019), Billy Slater (2018), Brandon Smith (2022), Joe Stimson (2019), Suliasi Vunivalu (2020), Christian Welch (2019), Curtis Scott (2021)
Off contract: None
2018 Gains: Gerard Beale (Sharks), Adam Blair (Broncos), Tohu Harris (Storm), Peta Hiku (Warrington), Matiu Love-Henry (Broncos), Leivaha Pulu (Titans), Agnatius Paasi (Titans), Johnny Tuivasa-Sheck (Roosters), Blake Green (Sea Eagles), Anthony Gelling (Wigan)
2 018 Losses: Bureta Faraimo (Hull FC), Kieran Foran (Bulldogs), Charlie Gubb (Raiders), Ryan Hoffman (Storm), Jacob Lillyman (Knights), Ben Matulino (Tigers), Ofahiki Ogden (Bulldogs), Toafofoa Sipley (Sea Eagles), Bodene Thompson (Leigh), Matthew Allwood (Wynnum Manly)
Re-Signed: Blake Ayshford (2019), James Gavet (2019), Ata Hingano (2020), Shaun Johnson (2019), Mason Lino (2019), Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad (2019), Nathaniel Roache (2018), Ligi Sao (2019), Patrick Sipley (2018), Lewis Soosemea (2019), Joe Vuna (2019), Albert Vete (2019)
2018 Gains: Herman Ese’ese (Broncos), Slade Griffin (Storm), Aidan Guerra (Roosters), Chris Heighington (Sharks), Jacob Lillyman (Warriors), Tautau Moga (Broncos), Kalyn Ponga (Cowboys), Connor Watson (Roosters), Christian Hazard (Redcliffe), Brent Naden (Raiders), Mitchell Pearce (Roosters), Junior Roqica (London Broncos)
2018 Losses: Brendan Elliot (Titans), Dane Gagai (Rabbitohs), Rory Kostjasyn (retired), Peter Mata’utia (Leigh), Sam Mataora (retired), Jarrod Mullen (released), Mickey Paea (Hull FC), Josh Starling (Oberon), Anthony Tupou (retired), Joe Wardle (Castleford), Jacob Gagan (Rabbitohs), Jaelen Feeney (Townsville), Jack Stockwell (Titans), Chanel Mata’utia (released), Pauli Pauli (Wakefield), David Bhana (New Zealand), Bryce Donovan (Redcliffe), Will Pearsall (not re-signed)
Re-Signed: Mitch Barnett (2020), Lachlan Fitzgibbon (2019), Tom Hughes (2018), Danny Levi (2020), Nick Meaney (2018), Dylan Phythian (2018), Nathan Ross (2020), Tom Starling (2018), Sam Stone (2018), Jack Johns (2018), Luke Yates (2018), Jacob Saifiti (2020), Daniel Saifiti (2020), Tyrone Amey (2018), Pasami Saulo (2020)
Off contract: Ben Spina
2018 Gains: Jordan McLean (Storm), Francis Molo (Townsville)
2018 Losses: Patrick Kaufusi (Storm), Kalyn Ponga (Newcastle), Ray Thompson (retired), Braden Uele (Sharks), Patrick Mago (Broncos), Blake Leary (Burleigh), Corey Horsburgh (Raiders)
Re-Signed: John Asiata (2020), Scott Bolton (2019), Jake Clifford (2019), Gavin Cooper (2019), Kyle Feldt (2020), Shaun Hudson (2018), Corey Jensen (2019), Kyle Laybutt (2018), Gideon Mosby-Gela (2019), Emry Pere (2018), Matthew Scott (2019), Murray Taulagi (2019), Jason Taumalolo (2027), Johnathan Thurston (2018), Enari Tuala (2019)
Off contract: Cody Nelson, Honeti Tuha
2018 Gains: Kane Evans (Roosters), Mitchell Moses (Tigers), Tony Williams (Sharks), Jarryd Hayne (Titans)
2018 Losses: Isaac De Gois (retired), Semi Radradra (rugby union), Jeff Robson (retired), Dean Matterson (Roosters), Troy Dargan (Broncos), Frank Pritchard (retired), Matthew Woods (not re-signed), John Folau (Blacktown), Scott Schulte (Redcliffe)
Re-Signed: Nathan Davis (2018), David Gower (2018), Cameron King (2018), Tepai Moeroa (2019), Will Smith (2018), George Jennings (2018)
Off contract: Tony Satini, Lachlan Stein
2018 Gains: Tyrone Phillips (Bulldogs), Jayden Walker (Sharks), Adam Keighran (Bulldogs), James Maloney (Sharks)
2018 Losses: Sitaleki Akauola (Warrington), Mitch Rein (Titans), Darren Nicholls (Dragons), Matt Moylan (Sharks), Mason Cerruto (Bulldogs), Leilani Latu (Titans), Stefano Hala (Raiders)
Re-Signed: Wayde Egan (2019), Corey Harawira-Naera (2020), Sione Katoa (2019), Viliame Kikau (2018), Dallin Watene-Zelezniak (2020), Dean Whare (2022), Dylan Edwards (2020), Tyrone May (2020), Isaah Yeo (2021)
Off-contract: Anthony Cherrington, Luke Kelly
2018 Gains: Jesse Arthars (Storm), Dane Gagai (Knights), Jacob Gagan (Knights), Richard Kennar (Bulldogs), Mark Nicholls (Storm), Billy Brittain (Norths), Jesse Martin (Manly), Junior Tatola (Tigers), Vincent Leuluai (Storm)
2018 Losses: Bryson Goodwin (Warrington), Jack Gosiewski (Sea Eagles), Aaron Gray (Sharks), Gabriel Hamlin (Wigan), Robbie Rochow (Tigers), Damon Goolagong (Wyong), Brad Deitz (Wentworthville), Toby Rudolf (Redcliffe), Sitiveni Moceidreke (Mounties), David Tyrrell (Easts), Brett Greinke (Easts)
Re-Signed: Josh Cook (2019), Campbell Graham (2019), Dean Hawkins (2019), Mawene Hiroti (2019), Alex Johnston (2020), Sam Johnstone (2020), Ky Rodwell (2020), John Sutton (2018), Lucky Ta’avale (2019), Siosifa Talakai (2019), Kyle Turner (2019), Sam Burgess (2019), Tom Burgess (2019), George Burgess (2019)
Off contract: None
2018 Gains: James Graham (Bulldogs), Ben Hunt (Broncos), Jeremy Latimore (Sharks), Darren Nicholls (Panthers), Mitchell Allgood (Wakefield), Ash Nisbet (Tigers)
2018 Losses: Joel Thompson (Sea Eagles), Josh Dugan (Sharks), Will Matthews (Titans), Josh McCrone (Toronto), Taane Milne (Tigers), Russell Packer (Tigers), Levi Dodd (Townsville), Kalifa Faifai Loa (Townsville), Jacob Hind (Sunshine Coast until 2018), Drew Hutchison (Leigh), Yaw Kiti Glymin (not re-signed), Jake Marketo (rugby), Siliva Havili (Raiders), Joel Thompson (Manly)
Re-Signed: Euan Aitken (2020), Jack de Belin (2020), Jacob Host (2020), Tim Lafai (2020), Blake Lawrie (2019), Kurt Mann (2019), Jason Nightingale (2018), Tristan Sailor (2019), Paul Vaughan (2021), Gareth Widdop (2021), Jackson Ford (2020), Cameron McInnes (2021), Luciano Leilua (2020)
Off contract: Paki Afu
2018 Gains: James Tedesco (Tigers), Cooper Cronk (Storm), Dean Matterson (Eels), Reece Robinson (Waratahs)
2018 Losses: Kane Evans (Eels), Aidan Guerra (Knights), Kiah Cooper (Titans), Connor Watson (Knights), Johnny Tuivasa-Sheck (not re-signed), Mitchell Pearce (Knights), Jarred Anderson (Bulldogs), Brenden Santi (Townsville), Jayden Nikorima (released)
Re-Signed: Mitch Cornish (2018), Blake Ferguson (2018), Ryan Matterson (2019), Dylan Napa (2019), Victor Radley (2019), Chris Smith (2018), Daniel Tupou (2021), Sitili Tupouniua (2019), Lachlan Lam (2018), Isaac Liu (2021), Luke Keary (2021)
Off contract: None.
2018 Gains: Mahe Fonua (Hull FC), Tyson Gamble (Redcliffe), Benji Marshall (Broncos), Ben Matulino (Warriors), Chris McQueen (Titans), Taane Milne (Dragons), Russell Packer (Dragons), Josh Reynolds (Bulldogs), Robbie Rochow (Storm), Corey Thompson (Widnes), Pita Godinet (Manly)
2018 Losses: Matt Ballin (retired), Joel Edwards (released), Justin Hunt (retired), Jamal Idris (retired), Ryan Papenhuyzen (Storm), Ava Seumanufagai (Sharks), James Tedesco (Roosters), Aaron Woods (Bulldogs), Jack Littlejohn (Salford), Jeremy Marshall-King (Bulldogs until 2018), Ash Nisbet (Dragons), Kyle Lovett (Leigh), Joel Edwards (Newcastle local league), Junior Tatola (Rabbitohs), Wesley Lolo (Newtown)
Re-Signed: Josh Aloiai (2019), Luke Brooks (2019), Michael Chee-Kam (2019), Matt Eisenhuth (2019), Tim Grant (2018), Jacob Liddle (2019), Matt McIlwrick (2019), Kevin Naiqama (2018), David Nofoaluma (2021), Moses Suli (2020), Elijah Taylor (2020), Bayley Sironen (2018), Watson Heleta (2018 ISP)