MAITLAND, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 22: Tariq Sims of the Dragons during the NRL Trial match between the Newcastle Knights and the St George Illawarra Dragons at Maitland No. 1 Sportsground on February 22, 2020 in Maitland, Australia. (Photo by Tony Feder/Getty Images)

The St George Illawarra Dragons have confirmed Tariq Sims will be allowed to explore options away from Wollongong from next year.

Coach Anthony Griffin, following the Dragons' narrow loss to the South Sydney Rabbitohs on Saturdauy night confirmed their stand-in captain, while contracted for 2022, will be able to look elsewhere.

“His management had a chat to our management a couple of weeks ago,” Griffin said in the post match press conference.

“He is contracted to us until the end of next year. As I understand it at the moment they have given him permission to look around.

“Nothing is ever off the table, it was just a conversation that happened a few weeks ago.”

Sims, who was taken to hospital last night to consult with a plastic surgeon after a horrific lip injury, is on contract at the Dragons until the end of the 2022 season.

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However, The Australian's Brent Read said the push to move Sims from the club could have a separate motive.

Viliame Kikau is free to negotiate with other clubs from November 1, with the Penrith superstar back rower likely to want a big pay increase, but also facing a salary cap crunch at Penrith following big upgrades to other teammates this season.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 02: Viliame Kikau of the Panthers offloads the ball to Apisai Koroisau of the Panthers during the round 16 NRL match between the Penrith Panthers and the Parramatta Eels at BlueBet Stadium on July 02, 2021, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Apisai Koroisau is another who will be chasing a big increase at the end of next season, currently only on a reported $470,000 per year.

Read said the Dragons could once again make a play for Kikau, despite the rumours being slammed by both Griffin and Kikau when they first emerged a handful of weeks ago.

“I know Hook suggested they weren’t interested but people have told me they will be when the time comes,” Read said on Triple M radio.

“November 1 they can actually speak to Viliame Kikau and I’d imagine he is right at the top of their list of players if Tariq goes that they can make an immediate play for.

“They won’t be the only club. There’ll be a handful of clubs going hard at Viliame and Penrith have a fight on their hands to keep him. That Tariq Sims situation will be a pointer that the Dragons will have a red-hot go at Viliame Kikau.”

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