NRL Rd 8 - Eels v Cowboys
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 03: Reed Mahoney of the Eels passes during the round eight NRL match between the Parramatta Eels and the North Queensland Cowboys at Bankwest Stadium on July 03, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

The Dolphins may have missed both Reed Mahoney and Brandon Smith in their pursuit of a player to start at hooker in their inaugural season, but a new candidate appears to have entered the race.

Smith might have toured the Dolphins' facilities, as well as those at the Cowboys and Dolphins, but he is set to link up with the Roosters from 2023, while Mahoney is heading to Belmore to ink a four-year contract with the Canterbury Bulldogs.

It's Smith's arrival at the Roosters which has the Dolphins interested however.

Sam Verrills has been the starting dummy half there for much of the last three seasons with Jake Friend first battling injury, and ultimately, retiring.

Smith's arrival means Verrills is likely to be relegated to the back up role on the bench for the Roosters from 2023, and while he is on contract at Bondi for Smith's first season at the club, provided the deal does get confirmed, he is free to explore his options after that.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 31: Sam Verrills of the Roosters celebrates with team mates after scoring a try during the round 24 NRL match between the Sydney Roosters and the Penrith Panthers at Sydney Cricket Ground on August 31, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

With Freddy Lussick and Ben Marschke also in Trent Robinson's side, he isn't short of back ups for the 80-minute Smith, and it could yet make sense for the tri-colours to free Verrills for a move before the end of his current deal.

The rumours are getting stronger that he may seek a release, and now The Daily Telegraph are reporting the Dolphins could be more than just remotely interested in the youngster.

The report suggests he is the club's number one target when it comes to finding a number nine for 2023, and while Harry Grant is still on the radar for 2024, Verrills' signature going to the Dolphins could completely change that.

It's understood Wayne Bennett is a fan of the youngster, with reports the Eels are also chasing him following Mahoney's move to Belmore.

The Dolphins have only managed two signatures since November 1 amid a slew of players they have missed out on, with Felise Kaufusi and Ray Stone their only two additions to an otherwise blank roster at this stage.