Manly are considering bringing Trent Hodkinson back to the northern beaches after missing out on the signature of Mitchell Pearce.
Having fallen short of the funds required to lure Pearce, the club must now find an experienced playmaker who won't break the bank, as replacement for Blake Green.
Fairfax Media understands one of the options the Sea Eagles have discussed internally is bringing back Hodkinson. The former NSW halfback began his NRL career at Brookvale, playing 24 matches in 2010 before shifting to Canterbury. He helped steer the Sea Eagles to the finals in 2010, playing predominantly alongside Kieran Foran as his halves partner.
While Hodkinson remains contracted to the Knights, they would be prepared to release him having snared Pearce and fellow former Rooster Connor Watson. A move back to Manly, where he would join Cherry-Evans at the scrumbase, would provide an opportunity to resurrect his NRL career and give the Sea Eagles the experience they require.
Manly has high hopes for young playmakers Luke Metcalf, Lachlan Crocker and Tom Wright, but there's a feeling they aren't yet ready for a full season of first grade in 2018. Jackson Hastings remains on the books but isn't viewed as a first-choice option.
"On behalf of our members, fans and corporate partners, we made a serious effort to secure Mitchell's services, but there was always a limit to that offer in order to ensure our ability to continue to attract and retain the very best playing group over the years to come," said Manly CEO Lyall Gorman.
"There are a number of very capable and exciting young players coming through our ranks and a major focus is to invest strongly in their development.
"We wish Mitchell every success in his future career."
Sea Eagles coach Trent Barrett said the club would move forward after missing out on Pearce.
"We put in a very strong offer for Mitchell. We were not going to get in a bidding war with any other club," Barrett said.
"Mitchell was honest through the whole process and we wish him all the best.
"We move forward with a very, very competitive playing roster for 2018 and onwards. We look forward to the year ahead."