St George-Illawarra will look internally before considering whether to make a play for Todd Carney, Chris Sandow or Jackson Hastings following young halfback Drew Hutchison’s long-term knee injury.
The Dragons have been forced back to the drawing board over their 2017 halves combination with promising No.7 Hutchison set to miss most of next season after going down at training on Thursday.
The 21-year-old was widely expected to partner five-eighth Gareth Widdop next year following Benji Marshall’s recent move to Brisbane.
Carney and Sandow, who both recently walked out on their Super League clubs, have expressed a desire to return to the NRL.
But Dragons recruitment manager Ian Millward said the club would initially look in-house, with Josh McCrone, Jai Field, Shaun Nona and Kurt Mann a chance to line up at halfback next year.
Millward said the club would not be “reactive” in response to Hutchison’s injury.
“We are looking at what we have got,” he told News Corp Australia.
“I would like to say our philosophy should always be that we will only recruit if someone out there is better than what we currently have.
Hutchison tore his anterior cruciate ligament when his foot got lodged in the ground during a collision at training.
He was instrumental in guiding the Illawarra Cutters to the NSW Cup and Interstate Championship titles and, in October, spoke of his desire to step up to the NRL next year.
Carney has previously said he is keen on an NRL return but a legal battle with former club Cronulla over his 2014 sacking first needed to be resolved.
Sandow, who is refusing to honour the final year of his Super League contract with Warrington due to homesickness, has been rumoured to have attracted interest from at least three NRL clubs.
Hastings is out-of-favour at the Sydney Roosters and the Wollongong-born halfback could be a good fit for the Dragons given he played in St George-Illawarra’s under-20s team only a few seasons ago.