Manly are running out of options to replace outgoing halves Kieran Foran and Daly Cherry-Evans, with coach Geoff Toovey admitting their successors are unlikely to come from within the NRL club.
Rookie Gold Coast playmaker Kane Elgey joined teammate Aidan Sezer in rejecting overtures from the Sea Eagles in recommitting to the Titans on Tuesday.
Sezer signed a three-year deal with Canberra earlier this month.
With representative halves Cherry-Evans and Foran committing to Gold Coast and Parramatta respectively from 2016 onwards, the cupboard is bare at Brookvale.
Off-contract playmakers James Maloney, Trent Hodkinson and Chris Sandow remain options for Manly.
Out-of-favour Canberra pivot Mitch Cornish could be another target for Sea Eagles coach Geoff Toovey, as could junior Kangaroo Jackson Hastings amid whispers he could leave Sydney Roosters.
Jack Littlejohn played five games in the halves for Manly last year, but hasn’t featured in 2015 and doesn’t look to be in the club’s future plans.
A worst case scenario for Manly would be a failure to secure at least one experienced playmaker for 2016.
“At this stage I can’t see anyone at the club that stands out to play that (playmaking) role (next year),” Toovey said.
“But I know Jamie Lyon played five-eighth in a (Manly) side that won the (2008) grand final 40-0 so there are some options there but we are trying to secure some quality options before that happens.
“It would be a tough ask to throw two inexperienced halves in there to replace both Cherry-Evans and Foran but again it is not out of the question.
“I wouldn’t want to put a time frame on it but we are actively involved in trying to sign key players.”
One plus for Manly is the retention of young gun brothers Tom and Jake Trbojevic who have extended their deals until the end of 2017.
There is hope the highly-touted youngsters will have a similar impact at the Sea Eagles as the Stewart brothers Glenn and Brett have had before them.
“I never want to compare people, (but) the Stewart brothers had considerable input into the success of the club over a long time, and (the Trbojevics) may well provide the same feeling as the Stewart brothers,” Toovey said.