NEWCASTLE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 02: Shaun Johnson of the Cronulla Sharks during the NRL Trial match between the Cronulla Sharks and the Newcastle Knights on March 02, 2019 in Newcastle, Australia. (Photo by Tony Feder/Getty Images)

It’s no secret the current crop of NRL halfbacks off-contract boasts some of the more eye-catching names league has seen for some time, with clubs now awaiting the first move that could ignite a domino effect that will impact more than half the league.

In the past week alone, Cronulla veteran Shaun Johnson’s management have declared the New Zealand international will assess the open market, while Rabbitohs veteran Adam Reynolds isn’t close to a new deal at Redfern and Broncos young gun Tom Dearden is a focal target for the Cowboys.

Add in the situations surrounding Storm star Jahrome Hughes, Panthers young gun Jarome Luai, Knights veteran Mitchell Pearce, Manly recruit Kieran Foran and Titans playmaker Ash Taylor and you can see the exciting potential this season possesses when it comes to the open halfback market.

“I can’t remember a time in recent history where there has been so many halfbacks that have left it so late and are coming off contract together,” Raiders chief executive Don Furner told The Daily Telegraph.

“It could be a domino effect with the halfbacks. There could be some big changes among the playmakers. It could be very interesting.”

Reynolds revealed to Sporting News on Monday that he and the Rabbitohs are far from agreeing to a new deal, with the club reportedly offering a one-year extension while the veteran is hoping for three more terms in the red and green.

“It would be ideal (to stay at Souths). But in saying that, it’s probably a long way from happening at the moment,” he said.

“We’ve started negotiations but we’re not right on the same page at the moment.

“I’d like to play for another three or four years. I’d like to sign for three years.

“I don’t really want to sign a couple of contracts towards the back end of my career. I’d like that bit of security.

“It’s something that we’re sorting out at the moment and hopefully we can come to a conclusion.”

The Cowboys have Dearden right in their sights, with the highly-touted youngster already meeting with North Queensland coach Todd Payten and club great Jonathan Thurston.

Hughes has long been linked with a move across the Tasman and could land a No.1 jumper in the absence of the departing Roger Tuivasa-Sheck.

Luai remains unsigned for the 2022 season, but it is understood the flashy half is nearing a major pay rise with the Riff.

A renowned player manager told The Telegraph that clubs are beginning to prepare for a season of transfers the NRL hasn’t seen before.

“There are eight halfbacks coming off-contract. It could become the greatest merry-go-round of halfbacks in the history of the game,” they said.

“This is unprecedented that so many chief playmakers would be rolling off at the same time. It would only take one to join another club for the whole thing to rotate.

“Say Jahrome Hughes left then Melbourne would need a halfback. That would then mean another one leaves, then another one. It would become chain-reaction.

“They are the game’s chief playmakers who can take you to the Promised Land. Halfback is the hardest judged position.”


  1. With Burton going to the Bulldogs in 2022, Laurie ( 5/8th or fullback ) go to the Tigers. I don’t think Luai will be leaving the Panthers.

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