Disappointed Newcastle coach Rick Stone says the NRL club had to take a stand and release centre Joey Leilua because “he doesn’t want to play for us anymore”.
The 23-year-old was officially released by the Knights on Monday morning and is widely tipped to link with Canberra.
Raiders officials declined to comment on any potential announcement, however Stone admitted the club were engaged in talks on a player swap before the June 30 deadline.
Leilua, who played 54 NRL games with the Knights since joining from the Roosters in 2013, exercised a get-out clause in his contract on Sunday entitling him to leave Newcastle at the end of the season.
The 23-year-old was contracted with the club until the end of 2016, but when he re-signed last year had a clause inserted which stated he could seek a release should former coach Wayne Bennett leave the club.
Former Queensland and Kangaroos representative David Shillington is reportedly being mooted as part of a trade deal between the two clubs.