SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 23: Martin Taupau of the Sea Eagles looks dejected after losing the round 24 NRL match between the Wests Tigers and the Manly Sea Eagles at Campbelltown Sports Stadium on August 23, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Martin Taupau could well have started his seventh and final season as a Sea Eagle on Thursday night, with the 32-year-old now linked with a move to the North Queensland Cowboys.

While the out-of-contract prop had stated within the past fortnight that he was yet to be alerted to any offers for 2023 and beyond, it appears as though the Townsville team could be set to extend the veteran a lifeline.

Widely tipped to finish on one of the table's bottom rungs this season, the Cowboys will be looking to inject key talent into the squad at any given opportunity, and with current starter Jordan McLean reportedly no closer to recommitting in the Far North, Taupau's name has been raised as a handy replacement.

Speaking on Fox League's NRL Tonight prior to Manly's Round 1 battle with reigning premiers Penrith, Dave Riccio of The Daily Telegraph claimed Taupau could be set to join his fourth franchise next season.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 21: Martin Taupau of the Sea Eagles warms up prior to the round 18 NRL match between the Manly Sea Eagles and the Parramatta Eels at Lottoland on July 21, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

 

“There aren’t a huge list of big-name off-contract players this year, however, I can tell you that Marty Taupau is one of the rare big names on the list,” Riccio commenced.

“One club, the North Queensland Cowboys are keeping an eye on Marty Taupau and how he starts the season.

“If he starts fast, they may just look at picking him up because they do have their own prop forward off contract in Jordan McLean.

“No decision has been made on McLean at this time and they just may go down the path of Marty Taupau if he has a fast start to the season.”

With Taupau's $800,000 a season agreement initial inked in 2019 set to expire at season's end, a shift to play under Todd Payten could provide the dual international with his best opportunity to continue earning a premium towards the twilight of his career.

And with 121 run metres and 27 made tackles from just 44 minutes of action during the Sea Eagles' seismic 28-6 loss at BlueBet Stadium, the Auckland-born wrecking ball is off to a solid start to his 13th campaign.

Taupau commenced his career with Canterbury in 2010 before linking up with Wests ahead of the 2015 season.