Newcastle have missed out on another recruitment target, with Matt Prior set to re-sign with Cronulla on a three-year deal.
Prior and Sharks teammate Jack Bird are at the top of the Knights’ wish list, but the premiership-winning prop is poised to ink an extension that will keep him in the shire until the end of 2020.
Premiership-winning squads are often ripped apart when the value of their off-contract stars increases on the open market. However, Prior will join a host of Sharks including Valentine Holmes and Sosaia Feki to recommit to the shire outfit.
Club powerbrokers are confident that other free agents including Bird, Wade Graham and Chad Townsend will soon do likewise.
“We want to keep the majority of the squad together and we’d like to hope we’ll be close to doing that in coming weeks,” said Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan.
“It was a special bond created last year after the club went on to win its first grand final.
“I remember Mark Glanville telling me the story of how he was part of Newcastle’s first grand final. He hasn’t played with them for 20 years but those players he played with in the grand final win still have a special bond.
“It will be the same for our boys. To be part of the club’s first one, that is something that will remain with them for life.”
Newcastle have missed out on Prior, Melbourne back-rower Dale Finucane and Cowboys captain Matt Scott, but are still hopeful of signing Bird, who is being courted by a number of clubs including Parramatta. Cronulla’s success means they don’t need to pay overs to attract and keep talent.
“If you want to come and play at Cronulla, you can come and play in a good team,” Flanagan said.
“But we’re not going to pay overs, we’d like to think we’re giving you a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.”
New signing James Segeyaro will make his first appearance in club colours against Parramatta, potentially off the bench.