Wigan prop Ryan Sutton is eyeing a move to the NRL next season with the Newcastle Knights confirming they are interested in the 22-year-old.
Sutton is currently in Australia with the Warriors and will come up against the Burgess brothers when he comes off the bench in an exhibition game against South Sydney on Saturday night.
The clash is part of an international double-header at ANZ Stadium also involving St George Illawarra and Hull FC.
It is understood Sutton has already turned down an opportunity to re-sign with Wigan beyond the end of this season to explore potential offers in the NRL for 2019.
The Knights are one of a number of clubs considering an approach with Canberra believed to be another.
Knights coach Nathan Brown confirmed on Thursday the club is looking at Sutton but is in no hurry to make a decision on whether to pursue the emerging Super League star.
“It is fair to say he is someone who is on our radar, but it hasn’t gone any further than that at this stage,”Brown said.
“The mail we are getting is he is keen to come to the NRL next season and there is some interest there for him.
“He is certainly a good young player and we have made contact with his management to express an interest. Whether anything develops further I’m not too sure. It’s too early to say.
“We want to have a good look at our current players here before we make a decision on who we might bring in for next season.”
It is not the first time the Knights have been linked to a Super League player.
The club was also mentioned as a potential suitor for St Helens prop Alex Walmsley before he re-signed with his English Super League club.
Brown coached Walmsley at St Helens before returning to Australia and landing the Knights coaching job but negotiations with the Test prop never got off the ground because of his asking price.
Whether Brown ultimately decides to make a play for Sutton may also hinge on his financial appetite.
Meanwhile, prop Daniel Saifiti and centre Tautau Moga have been cleared to play against Parramatta in the Knights’ final trial at Maitland Sportsground on Saturday week after fully recovering from off-season shoulder surgeries.
But there is still a slight doubt over whether backrower Mitch Barnett will be available for the Eels clash.
The Knights will hold another intra-club trial at Maitland today before their squad for the trial is determined with Barnett needing to come through the opposed session unscathed to front up against Parramatta.
“Saifiti and Moga are both fine and ready to go but Barnett needs to get through tomorrow without any dramas to convince everyone he is right,”Brown said.
“He should be okay but it will depend on how he pulls up after tomorrow’s session.”
Brown is now expected to name a 17-man squad to meet the Eels with a couple of extra fringe players to be given an opportunity after getting plenty of game time in the NSW Cup trial.
“We were originally going to name 19 but I want to give everyone as much game time as possible so I’ve gone back to picking 17 and we may use a couple of players out of the Cup trial,”he said.
“I’ll know more after our opposed session.”
While the backline picks itself, Brown still has some decisions to make in regards to his forward pack and admits there will be some unlucky players who will miss out.
“I honestly still don’t know exactly which way we will go with a few spots but hopefully, things will be clearer after the opposed session,”he said.
“Blokes know it is their last chance to put pressure on for a spot.”