Newcastle Knights coach Nathan Brown admits the club would be willing to release veteran playmaker Trent Hodkinson.

A RETURN to Manly still appears an option for Knights playmaker Trent Hodkinson.

HALF MEASURES: Trent Hodkinson and Mitchell Pearce.

HALF MEASURES: Trent Hodkinson and Mitchell Pearce.

Hodkinson’s hopes of featuring in Newcastle’s top side have apparently been cruelled by the club’s decision to sign Mitchell Pearce to a four-year contract.

There was speculation before Christmas that Hodkinson would link with Manly – his first NRL club – but any plans along those lines have been complicated by the investigation into alleged salary-cap breaches.

Speaking in a Big Sports Breakfast interview on Thursday, however, Knights coach Nathan Brown said it was still a “possibility” that the former NSW half could be headed to Brookvale.

“From our point of view, we’re happy with Trent here if that’s what Trent wants,” Brown said.

“We’re not trying to push him out. We don’t need to do that and have no intention of doing that.

“Whether something arises elsewhere for Trent, I suppose the Manly thing is something that looks like it’s a possibility, if their salary cap is OK ... if some better opportunity comes up and Trent says he’d like to take it, well we wouldn’t stand in his way.”  

Newcastle’s willingness to release Hodkinson is in contrast to their refusal to allow young halves Brock Lamb and Jack Cogger to leave early.

All are under contract for 2018, but the arrival of Pearce and former Roosters teammate Connor Watson has created a surplus of scrumbase options. 

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