The Sydney Roosters say re-signing Boyd Cordner remains one of their priorities amid rumours Sonny Bill Williams is on his way back to the club in 2017.
The Roosters have a swathe of stars off-contract at the end of 2016 and even after losing stars Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and James Maloney last year, they are again facing a salary cap squeeze.
Representative stars Cordner, Michael Jennings and Sam Moa headline a list of tri-colours players coming off contract while young playmaker Jackson Hastings will be seeking a big upgrade.
Roosters chief executive Brian Canavan said the Roosters had opened up preliminary discussions with Cordner amid reports the NSW State of Origin back-rower had knocked back the club’s first offer.
The 23-year-old is considered to have a big future ahead of him and was recently named in the World XIII.
Canavan conceded they have a battle on their hands to retain all of their off-contract big names especially in light of speculation Williams is on his way back to Moore Park.
Dual international Williams has been widely linked with a return to rugby league following his commitments with the New Zealand sevens side at next year’s Olympics.
As well as having helped the Roosters to their 2013 grand final win, Williams has been training in their gym alongside the club’s under-20s while in Australia in the off-season.
Canavan said the club would dearly love to hold onto Cordner who has gone on to represent NSW and Australia after being signed as a tennager from Newcastle in 2008.
“He’s been with us since he was a 16-year-old. We’re very happy to have him in the club and want him to have a very long and fruitful association and he’d like to stay so that’s a good starting point,” Canavan said.
Canavan conceded balancing the club’s salary cap was a delicate act after a period of sustained success over the last few years, which has seen them net three straight minor premierships, and boosted the value of many of their players.
“We’ve got a heap coming off contract,” Canavan said.
“It’s just how it all works with the salary cap. Roger was a priority last year too and we lost him.”