SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 15: Adam Reynolds of the Rabbitohs kicks a field goal during the NRL Semi Final match between the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the St George Illawarra Dragons at ANZ Stadium on September 15, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Another day, another player linked to the North Queensland Cowboys.

Over the past few days the Cowboys have officially registered interest in South Sydney’s premiership winning halfback Adam Reynolds.

The club has been linked with a mega money move for Reynolds for a fortnight-or-so now but the official word was delivered this week following what looks like a career-threatening injury to Michael Morgan.

As it stands, the Cowboys look likely to be sans their two preferred halves in 2022 and beyond given Jake Clifford has signed for Newcastle next season.

There is talk that the youngster is looking to possibly ‘backflip’ on his commitment now that Morgan’s career unfortunately looks to be winding down.

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Rugby League Immortal Andrew Johns was not backwards in advising Clifford to honour the contract he signed. At this stage it looks as though the talented number six is headed to the Hunter.

Either way though, with Morgan’s likely retirement, the Cowboys are set to lose their best attacking player and an experienced leader to boot.

Combine the likely exit with a horror start to the season and it looks as though the Cowboys are set for a big money dash into the player market … through necessity.

Any club would love to have the better part of a million dollars to spend but there’s no replacing a fully fit and firing Michael Morgan.

Not only did he play a huge role in delivering the club it’s maiden premiership in 2015, but he almost single handily took them to the Grand Final in 2017. That late season run was as dominant as I have seen a single player in 30 years of watching the game.

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With Reynolds reportedly in talks with the Cowboys brass, the message is clear; the Townsville-based club are on the look out for a marquee signing to turn around their recent, awful fortunes.

This would add credence to the rumours of the Cowboys reaching out to the management of Sharks superstar Shaun Johnson.

The talk is that Johnson wants to remain in the Shire, however with the Sharks unwilling to open contract talks until his return from injury, coupled with the Cowboys new found ‘war chest’, I would be shocked if there wasn’t at least a coffee over Zoom.

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The Cowboys have unfortunately found themselves in a Manly-like situation of being extremely top heavy when it comes to their cap.

Jason Taumalolo is commanding a million dollars a season while Michael Morgan doesn’t come cheap. With all due respect to Valentine Holmes, he has not come close to justifying his eye-watering contract since moving from the Sharks via the New York Jets practice squad.

As we’ve seen with Manly, it only takes one player (Tommy Turbo) to be injured long-term, or a player (Jake Turbo) to suffer a downfall in form and the side is under immense pressure.

With Morgan and Taumalolo out and with Holmes struggling to return to his devastating best at either fullback or on the wing, the Cowboys have become early season easy beats.

The Cowboys have shown in the past that they’re not exactly the pinnacle when it comes to securing their younger talent.

The names Kalyn Ponga, Viliame Kikau and Felise Kaufusi are just three players who were Cowboys under 20’s players who have made names for themselves elsewhere. The club would do almost anything to have one, let alone all three, of those players kitting up for them this weekend.

Simply put, Todd Payten needs a marquee signing. Be that Shaun Johnson, Adam Reynolds or whoever else.

There’s talk that veteran Josh McGuire has been tapped on the shoulder to look elsewhere in 2022. This would free up the cap space required to target a younger player.

McGuire, one of the Cowboys better players across the opening three weeks, was critical of his side in a post-match interview this past Sunday.

Obviously hurt off the back of a thumping delivered by the Titans, McGuire couldn’t hide his disappointment. Dare I suggest disgust?

He, coincidentally looks set to pay the price for his side’s terrible form.

There are a huge list of players off-contract. Expect almost all of them to be linked to the Cowboys should Morgan’s retirement be confirmed.

The Cowboys need to start looking toward 2022 and beyond. Not to say that their 2021 is dead and buried yet; it’s only been three weeks, but the future isn’t as bright as it perhaps should be.

They’re going to have to go hard at a big name superstar and possibly take a risk. Is Reynolds the man to turn the club around?

He might have to be.