Newcastle Knights coach Rick Stone revealed yesterday that the club’s off-contract players had been advised to sit tight until the Nathan Tinkler takeover negotiations were resolved.
Contract talks between the Knights and some of their stars, including skipper Kurt Gidley, hooker Isaac De Gois and Kiwi Test centre Junior Sa’u, have been put on hold as the privatisation saga runs its course.
Lawyers representing the NRL club and the Tinkler Sports Group were reviewing documents yesterday, but Knights chief executive Steve Burraston said it was a slow process and it might not be known until after the weekend whether an agreement had been reached.
In the interim, Knights officials had told players it would be to their advantage to remain patient.
If multimillionaire Tinkler assumes ownership of the Knights – which may not happen until March 30, at the earliest – he will still have to work within the salary cap.
However, through his contacts in the mining industry he may be able to attract third-party sponsorships for players.
The Knights have been negotiating with Gidley and De Gois since late last year and both players are expected to sign extended deals for two and three seasons respectively.
There was speculation last week that Cronulla, for whom De Gois played in 2007 and 2008, were interested in enticing the dummy-half dynamo back to the Shire.
But Stone said yesterday: ‘‘I’d be very surprised if Isaac de Gois left the Knights.’’
If Newcastle are extremely confident about re-signing Gidley and De Gois, they are wary about the possibility of losing Sa’u.
The powerful 23-year-old has a close relationship with New Zealand coach Stephen Kearney, who may be looking to bolster his outside backs at Parramatta after losing Timana Tahu, Krisnan Inu and Jonathon Wright since the end of last season.
The chances of Cronulla prop Kade Snowden linking with Newcastle under Tinkler appear to be strong.
Snowden was poised to re-sign with the Sharks last week before Tinkler called him at the 11th hour and urged him to hold off.
Tinkler insists he did not make an offer but it is understood he intends to honour his unofficial commitment to the Newcastle-born prop if his privatisation proposal is ratified.