Hot on the heels of Mitchell Pearce formally requesting a release from the final year of his Newcastle Knights' contract, the club have been linked with two potential replacements.

While the commonly held view has been that Luke Brooks could end up in the Hunter, new Tigers' director of football Tim Sheens squashed that notion on Sunday evening, saying he would remain at the club until the end of his current deal in 2023.

It means the Knights have began to search for other alternatives, and while it's admittedly not their first priority, former St George Illawarra Dragons' half Corey Norman has been touted as an option.

Norman was told mid-season that he wouldn't be offered a new deal by the Dragons beyond 2021 following a run of indifferent form. The former Parramatta half has since been attempting to remain in the NRL, but has also reportedly been in discussions with Pearce's likely new home, the Catalans Dragons.

That comes as they replace the retiring James Maloney.

Channel 7s Michelle Bishop told SEN Radio that Corey Norman's management has had discussions with the Knights on Thursday morning.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 25: Corey Norman of the Dragons passes during the round 7 NRL match between the Sydney Roosters and the St George Illawarra Dragons at the Sydney Cricket Ground on April 25, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

“I have contacted Corey Norman’s management and they have had discussions with the Newcastle Knights,” Bishop said.

“I will say that it is defenitely not the Knights’ priority.

“I can also reveal that Corey Norman was shopped to the Catalans Dragons prior to this all happening when there was discussions of James Maloney possibly retiring.

“The Dragons were not interested and if you join the dots that’s because they were already well advanced in talking to Mitchell Pearce as their preferred option.”

As unlikely as a Norman move to the Hunter sounds, the Knights may not need to use their new signing as a first-choice replacement to Pearce, with Simi Sasagi, Adam Clune, Jake Clifford and Phoenix Crossland all at the club, as well as the touted move of Kalyn Ponga into the halves.

North Queensland Cowboys' gun Scott Drinkwater has also been discussed as an option, according to Bishop.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 11: Scott Drinkwater of the Cowboys celebrates with team mates after scoring a try during the round five NRL match between the Wests Tigers and the North Queensland Cowboys at Leichhardt Oval, on April 11, 2021, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Scott Drinkwater has also been mentioned but he is contracted until the end of 2023 at the Cowboys,” Bishop said.

“But when you look at his situation you have Tom Dearden and Chad Townsend there so if he could get out of that he is a local Terrigal boy just up the M1 and it would be a nice homecoming.”

While Drinkwater can play other positions, it would appear Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow will start at fullback in the 2022 season following a late burst there in 2021.

That leaves Drinkwater well and truly on the outer for Todd Payten's side, and could see him shift south to Newcastle as a genuine starting option alongside former North Queensland partner Clifford.

The Knights are unlikely to grant Pearce a release until a replacement is secured.