The Manly Sea Eagles have worked behind the scenes to upgrade Tongan international Haumole Olakau'atu's contract, despite already being signed through to the end of 2025.
The 24-year-old is coming off a stellar season, crossing for 10 tries in 21 appearances for Manly last year, and earning a World Cup berth with Tonga to end the season.
Manly just upgraded his contract in October, adding a one-year extension to his existing deal and pushing it from 2024 to 2025, reaffirming his role as the club's most exciting forward prospect.
Despite rival clubs not being permitted to negotiate for over 18 months, the Sea Eagles aren't taking any chances.
“He's got two years left on his deal at Manly but there's already some clubs sniffing around him,” Brent Read said on Triple M.
“Manly are aware of that and in order to keep him happy and convince him to extend beyond those two years, they've already upgraded him this year and given him a bit more money this year to reward him for the way he played last year and also to show him how valuable he is to that footy club and hopefully convince him down the track to sign an extended deal.
“They didn't have to do that Manly but they have.”
While the deal won't extend the years on his contract, it will see the damaging forward paid more over the next three seasons, enough to keep rival clubs from getting into Olakau'atu's ear over an early release.
The Sea Eagles will enjoy the bye next round after a big win over Canterbury to kickstart the Anthony Seibold era.