Four NRL clubs have publicly declared their interest in luring Jarryd Hayne back to rugby league once his Olympic Games commitments are over.
However none of them are Parramatta and the Sydney Roosters, both of whom were the only two clubs to decline commenting on whether they would pursue the code-hopping superstar.
While Hayne has yet to even confirm whether he would return to the 13-man game, the Roosters have firmed as favourites for the former Eels No.1, particularly with the Eels closing in on re-signing Corey Norman.
But Gold Coast, St George Illawarra and the Wests Tigers made no attempt to hide their interest on Tuesday, joining Newcastle in the race for the recently retired San Francisco 49er.
Coincidentally, all four clubs are currently financially backed by the governing body.
Dragons coach Paul McGregor made no bones of their want for the former Eels No.1.
“He’s an exceptional talent. I’ve had a little bit to do with him through Fiji and NSW and we’re always after quality players and he is at the top level of that,” McGregor told reporters in Wollongong.
“If he was on the market we would like to be in the mix.”
Wests Tigers boss Justin Pascoe told AAP the club is “always interested in talent”, while Gold Coast counterpart Graham Annesley is “open to discussions” with Hayne.
“Any NRL club would jump at the chance,” Annesley said.
The three clubs voiced their interest in Hayne one day after Knights CEO Matt Gidley said he would book a date with Hayne’s manager Wayne Beavis.
“We’ll definitely meet with his management and have a discussion,” he told the Newcastle Herald.
“We can and will look at bringing in a marquee player, if we feel that’s going to help our squad.”
Melbourne football director Frank Ponissi said they would only be able sign Hayne “if we got him on a cheap deal”, and the remaining nine clubs ruled out making a bid.
Hayne, who sensationally quit the NFL in an attempt to play rugby sevens with Fiji in Rio later this year, has previously said he would only return to Parramatta.
Eels officials declined to comment on Hayne’s potential return to the NRL.