Under fire Wests Tigers coach Tim Sheens has confirmed he was on board with assistant coach Benji Marshall contacting Mitchell Pearce over a possible return to the NRL.
It was revealed this week that the Tigers had been in contact with Pearce, who is currently plying his trade for the Catalan Dragons in the English Super League.
The club, based out of the south of France, are well in with a shot at taking out the Super League title this year, and Pearce's form has been a large part of that push.
The Tigers are well known to have been chasing established halves in recent times, but ultimately missed out on the signatures of Cameron Munster and Mitchell Moses, who will remain with their current clubs.
Moses' signature is yet to be made official, but with the Tigers the only other club in the race and changing their attention to Pearce, it's now clear they have missed out on the star halfback's signature after he took the Eels to the grand final in 2022.
Pearce has responded negatively towards the Tigers' approach, maybe of little surprise given his age and ability to avoid the spotlight in France - something he battled with right throughout his career in the NRL.
“I don't really have much to say. Benji called me yesterday and I told him I'm contracted to Catalans," Pearce told News Corp from France.
“We are top of the table and I want to win a comp in Super League. That's pretty much it.”
But Sheens, speaking to the media, confirmed that he was involved in the approach to Pearce, saying that he and Marshall don't do anything without telling the other.
“Yes. We don't do anything without telling each other. If you're getting me into that (that we aren't on the same page) … that's only what I want to talk about in that respect. I'm happy to talk about this game this week,” Sheens said.
The veteran coach didn't suggest the chase of Pearce was to 'replace' Luke Brooks however.
“When we have been dealing with Mitchell Moses and Cameron Munster, what do you think?,” Sheens said.
“It's not to replace him in particular. We are recruiting and we'll continue to recruit. From my aspect, we don't stop recruiting in the middle of the year either. We've moved a couple of players too, it's an ongoing thing all the time."
Brooks is the most capped NRL player without a finals appearance, and has spent time at both halfback and five-eighth in recent times.
With the recent admission from coach Sheens that Adam Doueihi is in fact the best fullback at the club despite his desire to play the number six, it could mean Daine Laurie is on borrowed time in a Tigers' jumper.
With the fullback likely to depart at the end of the year, that could see Doueihi become a permanent number one and a spot in the halves open up. That could easily become two if Brooks doesn't re-sign with the Tigers, something that is no certainty.
Should Brooks depart, the Tigers could start from scratch, however, Sheens denied any approach had been made to Jack Wighton over the possibility of the Raiders' half arriving at Concord after informing the Raiders he will test the open market before electing whether to take up a player option in his favour for 2024.
“We're getting calls like you are going to be interested in him because he's on the market. We're not, we have not spoken to him, we didn't know he was off contract,” Sheens said.
The Tigers, who have started the season with four straight losses, will travel north to play the Brisbane Broncos this Saturday evening as they attempt to turn around a dismal start to the season.