The Penrith Panthers will face one of the more intriguing free agency periods when the deadline for players off-contract at the end of 2024 to negotiate with over clubs ticks over on November 1.
While the bulk of their key players from the last three premierships are locked up, there are others that are going to be very difficult to retain.
Jarome Luai could be chief among them, with reports suggesting he could attract a million dollars per season or more on the open market. In the backs, young gun Sunia Turuva is off-contract, as is Taylan May, while the man rated as a future club captain in Mitch Kenny is another who is yet to be locked up.
That could spark alarm bells at the foot of the mountains, although alarm bells around contracts are not something that regularly keeps Penrith fans and their administrators up at night given the ridiculous talent production that continues out of their local juniors each year.
But there are enough situations and potential headaches at Penrith this year that suggest they will need to dip a toe in the water during November, even if that is for players at the bottom end of their salary cap.
In this series, Zero Tackle are running the rule over every club in the game and identifying the five targets they'd love to have from the November 1 deadline.
Current squad for 2025
Nathan Cleary, Jack Cole, Dylan Edwards, James Fisher-Harris, Mavrik Geyer, Liam Henry, Moses Leota, Soni Luke, Liam Martin, Jesse McLean, Brad Schneider, Lindsay Smith, Scott Sorensen, Izack Tago, Brian To'o, Isaah Yeo
Current best 17 for 2025
1. Dylan Edwards
2. Jesse McLean
3. Izack Tago
4. No player signed.
5. Brian To'o
6. Jack Cole
7. Nathan Cleary
8. James Fisher-Harris
9. Soni Luke
10. Moses Leota
11. Liam Martin
12. Scott Sorensen
13. Isaah Yeo
14. Brad Schneider
15. Mavrik Geyer
16. Liam Henry
17. Lindsay Smith
Here are five players available to negotiate on November 1 from outside of the club the Panthers could target for 2025 and beyond.
1. Adam Doueihi
From the outside looking in, it appears more and more unlikely that the Panthers will be able to make any sort of deal enticing enough for Jarome Luai to remain at the foot of the mountains from the start of the 2025 campaign.
That means the club could be left scrambling for a new five-eighth with enough experience to fill the void.
But given he has seemingly been looked over for the first reserve spot again in 2024 - Brad Schneider and Daine Laurie have both been signed by the reigning premiers as insurance policies - it seems unlikely he will have enough runs on the board to put his hand up for the six jersey in 2025.
Given his abilities to play multiple positions, a slow integration to first-grade off the bench seems the more likely option.
Instead though, Penrith may look to sign someone like Adam Doueihi for a cheap price early in the window. Doueihi's value is going to be undoubtedly down given the amount of time he has spent out injured, which means Penrith could make this a no-nonsense, no-risk signing.
Even if Luai does re-sign, Doueihi could easily shift to play in the centres. If Luai doesn't, well, Penrith have a ready made replacement ready to go.