NRL Semi Final - Eels v Rabbitohs
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 10: Damien Cook of the Rabbitohs celebrates as he runs in to score a try during the NRL Semi Final match between the Parramatta Eels and the South Sydney Rabbitohs at Bankwest Stadium on October 10, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

The South Sydney Rabbitohs are about to face an unwanted headache caused by a number of key players coming off-contract at the same time.

Latrell Mitchell, Cody Walker and Damien Cook are all on contracts expiring at the end of 2023, freeing them up to test their worth on the player market come November 1.

With all three players vital to the Rabbitohs’ success over recent years and worthy of a pay upgrade, the club faces a difficult challenge to retain all three – or deciding who should go.

Walker and Mitchell are with the same player agency and there’s a belief that the duo are each made better by playing beside each other – with plenty of evidence on show since Mitchell’s return from injury.

“(The Rabbitohs) have started talks with Latrell, obviously they want to keep him,” The Australian’s Brent Read told Fox Sports NRL 360.

“He and Cody are intertwined a little bit, they’re under the same management and last time they did the deals they aligned them.

"The issue they might have is Cody is in his early 30s now, Latrell is in his mid-20s.

"The good thing is Latrell doesn't want to go, you can see how much he loves South Sydney."

While it’s believed South Sydney may not be as willing in their pursuit of Walker due to his age, the undeniable fact that he brings out the best in Mitchell could be used by management in their negotiations.

The possibility of one deal influencing others doesn’t bode well for Cook, who has played 153 games for the Bunnies since his arrival in 2016. Fox journalist James Hooper suggested on NRL 360 that the length of the deal could be a deterrent for Souths during so many high-stakes negotiations.

Should the Cook deal stall, rumours are already beginning that he could be reunited with former Rabbitohs mentor Wayne Bennett at the Dolphins.

“I think they’ll try and offer him two years with the perspective of keeping him around the club,” Hooper said.

“But there was a tip today that the Dolphins might be having a look at Damien Cook. They’re still trying to find key position players.

“(South Sydney) have a real balancing act on their hands.”