Sydney Roosters remain in a strong position to snare NSW Origin centre Michael Jennings despite 11th-hour interest from NRL rivals Gold Coast sparking a potential bidding war for his services.
The Titans, in need of firepower out wide following the departure of Beau Champion, are desperate to lure Jennings north on a big seven-figure deal, but it’s understood the Penrith star is keen to stay in Sydney.
That means the Roosters may still be able to offer less to keep the 24-year-old, who appeared on the way to Bondi Junction at the start of this week.
Despite Jennings being on the outer with Panthers officials, Penrith still hold a key to where he’ll play in 2013.
He’s currently on a $600,000-per-season contract but the Roosters are reportedly willing to offer less – $2 million over four years.
With Jennings and his management not interested in a pay cut, and the Panthers reluctant to pay any part of his salary elsewhere, the Titans could come up trumps by stretching themselves with a massive deal.
Gold Coast, who suffered from salary cap pressures last season, now appear to have room to move under the cap after releasing foundation playmaker Scott Prince and Champion, who has returned to South Sydney.
Jennings’ signature would add a match-winning back to their list of potent Origin forwards, containing Nate Myles, Greg Bird, Dave Taylor and Jamal Idris.
Captaincy candidate Myles was tight-lipped on speculation Jennings could be an off-season recruit but admitted he’d be a more than welcome acquisition.
The Titans have fresh memories how the Penrith centre, sensationally dropped by Panthers coach Ivan Cleary midway through last year, returned from injury in round 25 to inspire a 36-22 victory at Centrebet Stadium.
“Any club that Michael is going to be an asset to with his speed and agility,” Myles said on Wednesday.
“He hurt us in the second-last round of the year just with his skill so we know what he’s capable of first-hand.”
At a Gold Coast junior rugby league promotion, Taylor also spoke of the boost Jennings could provide the Titans but wasn’t about to get his hopes up.
Myles is considered among the favourites to replace Prince as skipper
“Don’t get me wrong I’d really enjoy the responsibility … but we’re rich for players who can do it,” Myles said.