Sam Stone is not alone. Just like many other players in the NRL right now who don't know what their futures look like, he is playing the waiting game.
Unsigned beyond this season, the rangy backrower hasn't been told one way or the other about a new deal with the Gold Coast Titans. But if the uncertainty is bothering him, it is not showing where it matters most - on the footy field.
The former Knight turned Titan has played the best footy of his career over the past five weeks, coinciding with a purple patch of form from the team that has netted the improving Titans four consecutive wins.
Stone, more than anyone, would love to finish the season with five straight by knocking over his former club tomorrow night on the Gold Coast.
"I've been really looking forward to the game against a lot of my old teammates," he said. "They are obviously playing in the finals and have had a good year and still have a lot to play for so it's going to be a real good contest."
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The son of former Knights coach Rick Stone, he says he has no regrets about his decision to leave the Knights midway through last season to pursue an opportunity north.
"At the time, it was a really tough decision to leave because I'd been in Newcastle for such a long time and played all my footy there, my family was there and all my mates," he said. "But the Knights basically had a set idea of what they were doing and I wasn't in the picture. This has been a good choice. I'd been living at home so I had to grow up. And I feel like my footy has improved."
After a breakout debut season for Newcastle in 2017 where he played 16 NRL games, he managed just two the following year and hadn't played any before he departed prior to the June 30 deadline last year.
He ending up playing the final eight games for the Titans last season and will double that tally in the final round. He's bought a unit on the Gold Coast and has his dad, the Burleigh Bears coach, staying with him and says he is hopeful of attracting a new deal.
He hasn't given up hope despite the club having Broncos backrower David Fifita arriving as a big name recruit along with new forwards Herman Ese'ese and Tino Fa'asuamaleaui.
"I'm no different from a lot of other players unsure of what's happening because of doubts over the salary cap and squad sizes," he said. "I guess I'm keeping my options open."
Stone will have the job of keeping Sione Mata'utia and Bradman Best quiet tomorrow night.
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