At least two rival NRL clubs are circling Connor Watson as the injured utility star and the Knights continue negotiations on a new contract for next season.
Watson is among a number of players including the likes of Jacob Saifiti, Herman Ese'ese, Aidan Guerra, Tautau Moga, Josh King and Mason Lino who come off contract at the end of the season.
But while the club is close to securing Saifiti's signature on a new deal, re-signing Watson is proving to be a more challenging proposition.
He remains a priority for coach Adam O'Brien and a deal is expected to get done because Watson has no desire to leave.
But with the club's salary cap position for next season extremely tight following the signing of Test backrower Tyson Frizell and the upgrading of fullback Kalyn Ponga, finding enough money to secure Watson has become a sticking point.
Watson's manager Clinton Schifcofske confirmed the interest in Watson elsewhere but remains confident his future is in Newcastle.
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"There is some interest there from a couple of other clubs but his preference is to stay," he said. "It's a matter of trying to sort it out. He definitely wants to try and get a deal done where he is so that's the priority.
"He is probably one of the biggest advocates of where the team is heading and the coach. It's pretty obvious for everyone to see but when you hear Connor is excited and keen to play and filthy he's out injured, there's some good signs there. We've just got to get it tidied up if we can."
Schifcofske, who is based on the Gold Coast, admitted his job has been made more difficult with the borders being closed.
"It will help when I can get down there but that's the way it is," he said. "It's doable [over the phone] but you'd rather be down there sorting it out."
Schifcofske would not comment on how big a financial gap exists between Watson's asking price and the Knights offer but recruitment boss Alex McKinnon suggested to the Newcastle Herald last week a deal is not imminent.
The length of any new contract also has to be resolved.
"I want him here and he wants to stay so I'm confident it will happen,"O'Brien said.
Watson, meanwhile, is believed to be on track to return from ankle surgery in around three weeks.
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