SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 23: Wade Graham of the Sharks makes a break during the NRL Preliminary Final match between the Cronulla Sharks and the North Queensland Cowboys at Allianz Stadium on September 23, 2016 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Wade Graham spent yesterday in New Zealand spruiking the Auckland Nines but an even more important discussion looms on the horizon as Cronulla’s captain-in-waiting prepares to sit down with the club to begin contract negotiations.

Graham, off contract at the end of next year, shapes as one of the most coveted players on the open market after a season in which he helped the Sharks to a maiden premiership and made his State of Origin debut for NSW.

He is among a slew of Sharks stars in the final year of their existing deals and talks are set to escalate as soon as coach Shane Flanagan returns from an overseas fact-finding mission.

“I just got back from holidays and Flanno is still overseas,” Graham said after attending the draw for the Nines, to be played in early February.

“There haven’t been any chats at all. It is still early days. Once we get back into the slog of things, that process will start.”

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