It has been revealed that the Penrith Panthers, Canterbury Bulldogs and Cronulla Sharks all held discussions with Cooper Johns before he ultimately made the decision to return to his junior club, the Manly Sea Eagles.

Johns wasn't retained by the Melbourne Storm at the end of a 2022 campaign where he played second fiddle to both Jahrome Hughes and Cameron Munster.

The State of Origin representative period combined with multiple injuries throughout Melbourne's squad ultimately saw Johns play more games than he would have expected in 2022.

He leaves the Storm with just 11 first-grade games across three seasons though, and will now battle for the Manly number six jumper.

Following the departure of Kieran Foran to the Gold Coast Titans, it has been tipped that Josh Schuster would move from the second row to five-eighth, however, his form at the back end of 2022 could raise plenty of questions for incoming coach Anthony Seibold and assistant boss Shane Flanagan.

The Sydney Morning Herald are reporting that all of the Penrith Panthers, Canterbury Bulldogs and Cronulla Sharks had discussions with Johns before he linked with Manly.

Penrith have lost Sean O'Sullivan to the Dolphins, and were rumoured to have signed Jock Madden before the ex-Wests Tiger went to Brisbane, while the Bulldogs and Sharks could also do with increasing their depth in the halves.

It's understood that Isaac Moses manages both Seibold and Johns though, although the club are denying they will become a home for Moses-managed talent.

The Sea Eagles suffered a disastrous losing streak at the back end of 2022 to miss the finals, and will now look to pick up the pieces for 2023.