NRL stars still unsigned for 2019
THEY are still waiting on veteran skipper Cameron Smith but Melbourne have locked in young stars Nelson Asofa-Solomona, Jahrome Hughes and Scott Drinkwater going into the NRL off-season.
Smith remains the biggest star in the game still without a contract for the 2019 season.
But the former Kangaroos captain is far from alone - millions of dollars worth of NRL talent remains unsigned, including Jarryd Hayne and Broncos stars Corey Oates and Tevita Pangai Jnr.
Smith's uncertain future, however, remains the most intriguing contract stand-off with the Storm admitting the club captain was only emailed a contract this week - following the club's grand final loss.
The Storm has already moved to lock up its squad for next year, but Smith remains technically a free agent allowed to look at any offer rival clubs put in front of him.
Giant Kiwi front-rower Asofa-Solomona, 22, has signed a four-year contract extension that will ensure he stays at the Storm for at least five more seasons.
Exciting backs Hughes and Drinkwater both signed new two-year deals taking them through to the end of 2020 and they could compete for the fullback spot left vacant by superstar Billy Slater's retirement.
Utility Hughes, 23, impressed when he stepped in for the injured Slater during the Origin period, performing well at fullback and in the halves as he put together 11 games in the second half of the season, with only injury forcing him out.
THE NRL'S UNSIGNED EIGHT
Cameron Smith: The Melbourne captain says he wants to play on. The club says they want him to play on. Yet they still haven't been able to come to an agreement. Both sides have stated publicly they're confident of getting a deal done so one of the greatest ever players can have a farewell season.
Jarryd Hayne: Mystery continues to surround the next step in the dual code star's storied career. Hayne has been tight-lipped, saying he wanted to take some time off before deciding on his next move. Overseas rugby, with a view to making the Fiji side for next year's World Cup, remains an option.
Tevita Pangai Jnr: The Brisbane tearaway has proved he's worth the hype. A split with his management means he cannot sign a new deal until November and has stated he won't be leaving Red Hill. However should coach Wayne Bennett move on, he could decide to follow him.
John Sutton: One of South Sydney's favourite sons, Sutton had his best season in several years and brought up his 300 game milestone in 2018. Anthony Seibold says he wants his back-rower on board for another year however negotiations have dragged out for months.
Matt Lodge: Lodge was one of the big improvers of this season and played every one of the Broncos' 25 games. He has been given the go-ahead by the NRL to sign a new deal. He is expected to sign a two-year extension with the Broncos however he remains very close to Bennett.
Corey Oates: The Queensland representative winger has no shortage of suitors - Brisbane want to re-sign him, Newcastle, St George Illawarra, Gold Coast and North Queensland have all expressed interest. It just seems to be a matter of his asking price. He has also stated he wouldn't re-sign with Brisbane if Bennett departs.
Robert Jennings: Jennings says he want to stay at South Sydney - and why wouldn't he after coming along in leaps and bounds under Seibold this year. He finished third on the top try scorers' list with 19 - despite missing a month with a hamstring injury late in the year.
James Segeyaro: With Blayke Brailey a possibility to step up to first-grade to play back-up to his brother and starting No.9 Jayden, it doesn't seem like there's a place at the Sharks for Segeyaro next year. He has been linked to Newcastle, after they passed up the opportunity to sign Issac Luke.