NRL Rd 1 - Eels v Titans
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 13: Will Smith of the Titans is tackled by Will Penisini of the Eels during the round one NRL match between the Parramatta Eels and the Gold Coast Titans at CommBank Stadium, on March 13, 2022, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

Former Gold Coast Titans' utility Will Smith is reportedly set to link up with a local club in the Newcastle competition for the remainder of the 2022 season.

Smith left the Titans in early June on compassionate grounds, wanting to return to New South Wales, having only joined the Titans at the start of the 2022 season.

The utility, who can play in the halves, at hooker, or at fullback predominantly, but could also slot into other positions, had only joined the club ahead of the 2022 season.

"The Gold Coast Titans have granted Will Smith a release from his contract upon his request," a club statement read at the time.

"Smith will return to New South Wales on compassionate grounds."

He made nine appearances during his time with the Titans, which had followed 21 games with the Penrith Panthers between 2014 and 2016, and 54 games with the Parramatta Eels between 2017 and 2021, as well as two starts for the Indigenous All Stars in 2016 and 2022.

Born in Newcastle, it's understood Smith returned to the region once released by the Titans, and now could link up with one of the clubs for the remainder of the season, with The Newcastle Herald reporting he has been cleared by the competition's governing body.

"That's the whole thing about the pathways that we've got," Newcastle Rugby League chairman John Crooks told the publication.

"We want players to play their way through our competition, which Will has previously, and go and play NRL.

"Then they can always come back later and pass on the knowledge and skills that they've learnt while they've been in the NRL."

It's understood that Central Newcastle - known as the Butcher Boys - who play out of St Johns Oval which is at times used for Newcastle Knights' lower grade games, could be where he ultimately ends up, with other clubs suggesting they won't be able to fit Smith in under the points cap that the competition operates under.

The Butcher Boys play the Entrance Tigers this Sunday in what will be Round 15 of the competition, with the club currently sitting in fourth spot and well in finals contention.

The Maitland Pickers are leading the competition with 11 wins from 14 games, ahead of the Cessnock Goannas, South Newcastle Lions and then Butcher Boys. Behind them sit the Macquarie Scorpions, Wyong Roos - who used to be part of the NSW Cup - the Entrance Tigers, Wetsern Suburbs Newcastle Rosellas, Lake United Seagulls and Kurri Kurri Bulldogs who round out the tail end of the ten-team competition.

The Knights recently spoke out about their desire to use the competition as a pathway into the first-grade team, with now-departed head of pathways Garth Brennan suggesting older talent wasn't excluded from playing NRL.

GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 02: Titans coach Garth Brennan during the NRL Trial match between the Brisbane Broncos and the Gold Coast Titans at Cbus Super Stadium on March 02, 2019 in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

"There is a message there for any local guy playing in the Newcastle comp who is over 21 who still might have dreams and aspirations," Brennan said in October.

"I'd like our NSW Cup side to have some of those players in there - players who maybe haven't given up on it altogether.

"I want them to know that the dream is not necessarily out of reach and that there is still a pathway there for those players to get on the big stage or, in some instances, get back on the big stage."

There is no indication the Knights could be interested in Smith, however, will be looking for ways to continue turning their season around following a thumping win over the Gold Coast Titans on Friday evening.

The most recognisable names currently playing in the Newcastle competition include Pita Godinet, Sam Mataora, Brock Lamb and Brock Gardner, while Dylan Phythian and Frank-Paul Nu'uausala are among other names who have played in the competition in recent seasons.