Wests Tigers are bracing for big changes up front, with long-serving duo Bryce Gibbs and Liam Fulton free to negotiate elsewhere and veteran prop Todd Payten believed to be eyeing retirement.
The fascinating developments at Concord headline a frenetic recruitment period that will also end with Darius Boyd, Kade Snowden and possibly Clint Newton in Knights colours next year.
While Tigers CEO Stephen Humphreys declined to comment, club insiders last night confirmed Gibbs and Fulton had been granted permission to talk to rival clubs as the joint venture moves to tie up boom forwards Aaron Woods, Andrew Fifita and Matt Groat.
Both Gibbs and Fulton have a year to run on their current contracts, and their preliminary exits would free up cap space for the Tigers to not only maintain their cubs but also finalise a deal with Melbourne superstar Adam Blair.
Having endured a horror injury run over the past 18 months, Payten is also thinking about giving the game away a year early.
Gibbs and Fulton’s agent is understood to have commenced talks with Cronulla, who have also held preliminary discussions with Ben Ross as they prepare for life after Snowden and Titans-bound Luke Douglas.
The Sharks also made a significant play for Woods, but Wests are close to re-signing the 20-year-old local junior. They’ve also taken up an option to extend Fifita’s contract for another 12 months.