KNIGHTS halfback Trent Hodkinson’s future could be decided as early as this week with his manager David Riolo returning from an overseas holiday as Cronulla and Manly circle the former NSW Origin playmaker.
Manly had been considered the favourites to sign Hodkinson prior to Christmas after their decision to release Blake Green to the Warriors and their failure to lure Mitchell Pearce left them an experienced playmaker short.
But after he was given the all-clear following a medical, negotiations between the Eagles and Hodkinson stalled due to the club’s salary cap dramas.
As it stands, Manly won’t know whether they will have the money to land the goalkicking 29-year-old until after they learn their salary cap fate from the NRL, with Cronulla now emerging as Hodkinson’s more likely and favoured destination.
The Newcastle Herald understands the Sharks have already made an initial offer to Hodkinson.
But it was a low-ball figure which he rejected.
It will now be up to coach Shane Flanagan, who has made no secret of the fact he remains very interested, to come up with a more palatable deal.
While the negotiations play out, the Knights are sitting back waiting for an outcome.
It is believed the club pre-paid Hodkinson around half of his $850,000 salary for this season prior to October 31 last year to have it included in the 2017 cap.
And he has already been paid around $100,000 this season in the three months since pre-season training kicked off. Knights coach Nathan Brown and head of football Darren Mooney are not commenting on the Hodkinson situation except to say the club won’t stand in his way if he gets a genuine opportunity elsewhere.
Earlier this month, Brown told the Sky Sports radio: “From our point of view, we’re happy with Trent here if that’s what Trent wants.
“We’re not trying to push him out. We don’t need to do that and have no intention of doing that.
“But if some better opportunity comes up and Trent says he’d like to take it, well we wouldn’t stand in his way.”
What is certain is the Knights won’t be prepared to take much of a hit to the hip pocket for Hodkinson to leave given what they have already shelled out for him.
His place in the salary cap will also have to be taken up by another player so there will be no significant financial gain for the club.
The strongest sign that Hodkinson is almost certain to depart is the club’s hard-line stance in refusing to allow Jack Cogger an early release from his contract.