With the futures of star forwards Paul Gallen and Luke Lewis up in the air, Cronulla have confirmed they are eyeing Brisbane’s Matt Gillett as a blue chip replacement.
Sharks coach Shane Flanagan says the club is interested in the off-contract Queensland and Australian forward as they face a rebuild over the next couple of seasons.
Gillett is one of the hottest properties on the market and while the Broncos are desperate to keep the Bribie Island product, he has already been courted by several Sydney clubs including St George Illawarra and Sydney Roosters as well as Gold Coast.
Experienced campaigners Gallen, 34, Lewis, 32, Chris Heighington, 33, and Sam Tagatese, 29, are all off contract with the Sharks at the end of next year and the loss of even two would leave them with a major leadership hole to plug in 2017.
The signature of Gillett, who at 27 has 12 Origin appearances and one Test under his belt, would be a genuine coup for the Sharks.
“We’re interested in quality players coming to our club,” Flanagan said on Friday.
“We haven’t had any formal discussions with (Gillett) but we’re always looking for quality players to come to our club and if some of these older boys do retire, we need to have quality replacements for them.”
Brisbane coach Wayne Bennett said he was confident Gillett wouldn’t leave Red Hill despite a reported gap between the player’s pay demands and what the Broncos are able to offer.
“It’s ongoing negotiations,” Bennett said.
“Matt’s keen to stay and we’re keen to keep him.”