Lachlan Coote could become the first casualty of North Queensland’s premiership success, with the fullback set to be forced out of the club.
The Cowboys have managed to keep their entire grand final-winning side together for the 2016 NRL season, however with eight members of the 17 off-contract this season, the salary cap squeeze is likely to set in.
Coote and his manager Mark Stewart have been in negotiations with the club but those talks stalled when the No.1 was told he could look elsewhere for 2017.
“From talking to the Cowboys, it looks like Lachlan will have to move on,” Stewart told News Corp Australia.
“We gave them every opportunity (to sign a new deal). The Cowboys came back to us and said we’re happy for you to talk with other clubs, but please give us the final shot.”
Coote is chasing a three-year deal, but the Cowboys have a number of options to succeed him at the back if required.
The club reached the preliminary finals of last year’s under-20s thanks largely to their speedy outside backs and appear to be investing their interest in 17-year-old flyer Kalyn Ponga.
Coote arrived at the Cowboys in 2014, but missed the entire season through a knee injury.
He returned in round three of 2015, scoring 12 tries and setting up 15 to form a significant role in their premiership success.
James Tamou is the highest profile of those off-contract this season.