The Cronulla Sharks are reportedly facing a salary cap squeeze in the coming weeks as they try to retain as many members of their explosive backline as possible.
Journalist Brent Read believes the Sharks have got a "huge month or so" coming as they try to secure a number of players who have stuck together through the junior ranks at the club and have been vital to the club's current success.
Speaking on Triple M's Monday Scrum on Tuesday, Read says the next few weeks will be telling, especially with regards to the contract situation of second-rower Talakai.
"I reckon Cronulla have got a huge few weeks coming up, a huge month or so" Read began.
"The Sharks have been talking to (Talakai) for ages about trying to get a new deal done.
"They put the talks off while he was in State of Origin camp, but they've ramped them up again.
"If you look at the Cronulla backline, Ronaldo Mulitalo, William Kennedy, Sione Katoa, Jesse Ramien and Talakai can all sign with another club from November 1," Read said.
"They've got some challenges in front of them, the Sharks, in terms of keeping that squad together... It's going to cost a lot of money to keep all those guys."
The Sharks are also dealing with more pressing contract matters too, with club icon Wade Graham coming off-contract this year, as well as revitalised big man Andrew Fifita.
They've already been busy this year, securing the services of a number of players including Blayke Brailey and Briton Nikora on long-term deals.
Sign Kennedy and the wingers – they are the key players off-contract. Tell the centres that they can get a mozza if they sign for for a bottom-eight club, but if they want to stay at the Sharks with a genuine chance a premiership they will have to take unders.
Sharks have depth in the backs – Matt Ikuvalu hasn’t been able to get a game this season, same for Mawene Hiroti. Kayal Iro has just been signed as a centre, so they can afford to lose the expensive Talaki and Ramien.
They have depth in the forwards: Jack Martin, Jesse Colquhoun and Royce Hunt plus Oregon Kafusi who has been signed for next year will give them all the depth they need, so they should let go Fifita, Graham and Tolman.
Ideally, sign Fifita to a non-playing role because – by all accounts – he is great for club culture.
As with any club – identify the guys who are “must-keeps” and be hard-nosed with the rest.
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