Regardless of the outcome of Sunday's grand final, the Parramatta Eels will have a fight on their hands to retain the services of star five-eighth Dylan Brown as he prepares to test his value on the open market.
But despite the fact they are yet to tie him down to an extension, Eels coach Brad Arthur believes Brown will remain loyal to the club, especially if they can win a premiership on Sunday.
Arthur knows that grand final success will make it difficult to retain all of his star players, but with the departure of Isaiah Papali'i and Reed Mahoney among a host of others, the Eels are likely to have some spending money available.
“Dylan Brown will stay in my opinion,” Arthur told the Daily Telegraph.
“The good thing is he wants to stay, which is half the battle, and then you have to massage the situation in negotiations.
“We may not be able to compete with the money out there, but if we can table a deal that is competitive I'm sure Dylan will stay.
“I have a good relationship with Dylan and he loves the club.”
NRL Immortal Andrew Johns weighed in on the issue this week, calling on the New Zealand Warriors to enter the fray and try and get Brown to return home.
The Eels five-eighth has spoken frequently about the importance of his decision to leave New Zealand to start his NRL career, and it's believed the sentimentality and family elements of a homecoming may be enough to pique Brown's interest.
But despite the lack of urgency on Brown's part, his manager insists t shouldn't be taken as a sign he is thinking about leaving Sydney's west.
“There's no doubt Dylan's happy at Parra,” said Brown's manager, Chris Orr of PSM.
“He has a great relationship with everyone there and it would take a massive deal to pull him out.
“The reality is Dylan's a different individual, he walks to the beat of his own drum.
“He's a free spirit, and if I go to the open market he'd have a stack of clubs chasing him. I've had a few calls, but I've respected Dylan's request not to worry about contracts until this season is out of the way.
“Dylan wants to park the contract issue and pick it up again when his football commitments end.”
Ultimately, no matter what happens on Sunday or in the future, coach Arthur is taking a realistic approach to his retention hopes.
Though it was revealed earlier in the year that a number of Cronulla Sharks players were willing to take collective pay-cuts so that they could remain together, that kind of situation is a rare outcome, regardless of how close the playing group is.
“You can't keep them all, but when you're losing good players it's the reflection of a good club,” the coach said.
“Look at the Storm, they can't retain all their good players because they're so successful.
“Penrith have their battles now and we're going down that path. It's too hard with the salary cap. You buy players cheap or at value, then if they reach their potential you can't keep them under the salary cap.
“That's the sign of a good club.”