The St George Illawarra Dragons are desperate to sign a stop-gap half after Jayden Sullivan's hamstring injury and Talatau Amone stood down, however they've reached a dead end with their top target.

It's been the off-season from hell for the Red V, losing Sullivan and Amone before Cody Ramsey was ruled out for 12 months due to ulcerative colitis, ending his 2023 season before it began.

While Tyrell Sloan and Moses Mbye are expected to cover fullback and five-eighth respectively, the club's depth has taken a massive hit, and any injury in the spine would leave them absolutely scrambling for troops.

TOOWOOMBA, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 22: Talatau Amone of the Dragons looks dejected after a Roosters try during the round 23 NRL match between the St George Illawarra Dragons and the Sydney Roosters at Clive Berghofer Stadium, on August 22, 2021, in Toowoomba, Australia. (Photo by Jono Searle/Getty Images)

One man that won't be called upon is former Melbourne and Brisbane halfback, Brodie Croft.

The 25 year-old picked up the Man of Steel award, Super League's Dally M equivalent, during his maiden season at Salford, enough to have Australian clubs start dialling the halfback's number.

While Croft has spoken previously about his desire to one day return to the NRL, it appears the rejuvenated half will have to bide his time in northern England a little longer.

The Sydney Morning Herald are reporting that the Red Devils have whacked a $250,000 transfer fee on Croft's head, causing negotiations to fall apart.

Dragons officials are reportedly reluctant to pay that kind of figure after Croft's falling out with Melbourne staff during his time at the club.

The Wests Tigers paid a similar fee, £125,000, to have John Bateman release from the Wigan Warriors, while Canterbury have just paid $500,000 to have Brisbane release teenager Karl Oloapu immediately.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 14: Brodie Croft of the Storm runs the ball during the round 18 NRL match between the Manly Sea Eagles and the Melbourne Storm at Lottoland on July 14, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)

The transfer fee isn't added to a side's salary cap, instead going directly into club spendings.

St George Illawarra officials are quietly confident that Jayden Sullivan will be for for the Charity Shield in a fortnights time, however if the five-eighth falls short, the 21 year-old is certain to be fit for their season opener.

The Dragons don't open their season until the final game of Round 2, a home clash against the Gold Coast Titans.