The St George Illawarra Dragons are on the hunt for a new five-eighth with Junior Amone facing the real possibility of jail time.
With Kyle Flanagan and Ben Hunt, the only two viable options in the halves for the Dragons, incoming coach Shane Flanagan looks set to search the open market for his next number six.
The biggest name linked to the Dragons in the vacant five-eighth role has been Jarome Luai, who looks set to command over a million dollars a season if he were to depart Penrith.
The Daily Telegraph’s David Riccio revealed the likelihood of that deal happening is almost improbable and that St George Illawarra may have its sights set on another star playmaker.
“I’m going to say it won’t happen, I get the sense the Saints won’t go down that path with Jarome Luai,” Riccio told SEN 1170 Breakfast.
“(They won’t be) willing to invest that significant amount of money in Jarome.
“I get that sense that they’ll make a play for Tom Dearden, he's a young player and you’ll get him a lot cheaper than a million dollars.”
The Cowboys previously offered Dearden a four-year, $2 million contract, which the player and his management turned down.
Meanwhile, Luai has reportedly been offered a two-year deal to stay at Penrith, worth around $850k per season.
“They will still attempt to make a massive money play and drag him out of the Cowboys,” Riccio added.
“If you ask me, I’m going Dearden ahead of Luai for the Dragons.”
Riccio admitted he doesn’t see Luai knocking back the offer from Penrith, due to the realistic offers from other clubs.
“It’s an interesting play, I said on Monday, I feel like Jarome will end up accepting the Panthers deal,” Riccio continued.
“I just don’t think a rival club will do enough to bridge that gap and basically show him the money.
“It’s only a gut feel (but) I think he ends up staying at the Panthers.”
If Luai rejects the offer from Penrith, he is free to negotiate with rival clubs from November 1st.