SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 28: Ben Hunt of the Dragons runs with the ball during the round 24 NRL match between the Wests Tigers and the St George Illawarra Dragons at CommBank Stadium, on August 28, 2022, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Wests Tigers coach Tim Sheens has confirmed his side are looking for a quality half moving into 2024, but has refused to enter speculation over whether the club may pursue Ben Hunt.

Hunt yesterday dropped a bombshell at the St George Illawarra Dragons after news surfaced he would ask for a release.

After months of speculation, and comments in the media confirming he wasn't sure over his future, the release request may not come as the biggest of surprises to the competition.

The Dragons are anchored to the bottom of the ladder, and Hunt wanted the club to retain Anthony Griffin as coach moving into next season on what would have been a new contract.

Griffin ultimately didn't make the end of this season, with a six-game losing streak following two seasons without finals before the club's board finally decided enough was enough, removing Griffin from his role.

The Dragons' board then appointed Shane Flanagan as coach from the start of the 2024 season, with Hunt seemingly endoring the move mid-week, but confirming he wasn't sure about his future once again.

That blew up on Saturday with the report he had requested his release from the Dragons, where he is contracted until the end of the 2025 season, having re-signed for two years before the start of the 2023 season, when his original contract was set to conclude.

Speaking after the Tigers' heavy loss to the Melbourne Storm on Saturday evening, Sheens said he was keen on signing a quality half for next year, but admitted the club can't negotiate with Hunt for the time being given NRL contract rules.

Hunt would need the blessing of the Dragons to negotiate with another club, and with Shane Flanagan reportedly saying Hunt wouldn't be given a release, there is still plenty to play out in the situation.

Sheens being quizzed on a potential play for Hunt comes with the club set to lose Luke Brooks at the end of the year. They are also yet to make a call on the future of Brandon Wakeham, who is off-contract at the end of the season following his last-minute switch from the Canterbury Bulldogs this year, while Adam Doueihi is due to miss approximately half of next year as he recovers from yet another ACL injury.

“[Ben Hunt] is a quality player but I'm certainly not going to start a rumour that we are chasing him. He's on contract at St George, he's got no clause to say he can get out of that contract. At this stage we can't deal with anyone that's in that situation,” Sheens said during his post-match press conference.

“But we are looking and we're obviously looking for next year as well. Adam may be late coming back next year. I've erred on the conservative side and said he won't play, if he does it's a bonus for us next year.

“So right at the moment we are actively looking for options in England and here. But so are a lot of clubs.

“It would be nice to be a classy seven these days because the money comes with it for the boys.”