NRL Rd 17 - Roosters v Cowboys
GOSFORD, AUSTRALIA - JULY 14: Jake Clifford of the North Queensland Cowboys scores a try during the round 17 NRL match between the Sydney Roosters and the North Queensland Cowboys at Central Coast Stadium on July 14, 2019 in Gosford, Australia. (Photo by Tony Feder/Getty Images)

North Queensland halfback Jake Clifford has reportedly had a request to opt out of his imminent move to Newcastle turned down by the Knights.

The 23-year-old penned a two-year contract with Newcastle late last year that would see him head south of the border from the 2022 season.

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However, according to Wide World of Sports’ The Mole, Clifford has attempted to backflip on the move in hope of remaining in Townsville.

Since signing with the Knights, Clifford has found more opportunities with the Cowboys under new coach Todd Payten, so far playing 240 minutes in the No.7 jumper across the opening three rounds.

With co-captain Michael Morgan now tossing up whether to call-time on his career due to a chronic shoulder injury, the halfback duties at North Queensland look to be relying on Clifford.

With a rejuvenated interest to now remain close to home, The Mole’s reports suggest a request was made by Clifford to continue plying his trade with the Cowboys beyond 2021 before having his plea shot down by the Knights.

Newcastle veteran Mitchell Pearce inked a new one-year extension earlier this month to remain at McDonald Jones Stadium until the end of the 2022 campaign.

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In the twilight of his career, Pearce would hand over the baton to Clifford for the future as Newcastle look to build on their promising list.

The Cowboys have already been linked to a possible successor to fill the void Clifford is set to leave come season’s end, with reports suggesting Payten is keeping a close eye on out-of-form Tigers playmaker Luke Brooks.

Brooks remains contracted until the end of the 2023 season, but is being closely monitored by the Cowboys, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.

North Queensland will be looking to snap their winless run to start the season when they face Cronulla on Saturday.