Off-contract Warriors hooker Issac Luke wants to stay and the club want to keep him but salary cap restrictions could still prevent him from re-signing for next season.
The 31-year-old has been one of the Warriors' finest this season having rediscovered his best form to help propel the Auckland outfit towards their first finals appearance since 2011.
The Kiwi international was dynamic in last week's win over Brisbane and will be primed for another big performance in Sunday's clash against Melbourne at Mt Smart Stadium.
The Warriors are looking to cement their place in the top eight and put themselves in contention for a spot in the top four, while Luke's personal match-up with Storm captain Cameron Smith will be worth the price of admission alone.
The former South Sydney premiership winner has declared he wants to remain in Auckland in 2019, but he may have to settle for a heavily reduced contract with the Warriors having little left to spend under the salary cap.
"I have spoken to Mooks (coach Stephen Kearney) about it. I want to stay," Luke told NRL.com.
"Obviously it is about what is best for the club and they have a lot of depth in my area at the moment.
"At the moment I am just trying to help those boys grow. I have to let my footy do the talking. I want a contract."
The Warriors have plenty options at hooker in Nathaniel Roache and rookies Sam Cook and Karl Lawton, but the club would love to keep Luke on their books for one more year.
Roache is held in high regard but has been sidelined all year with a back injury, continuing a horror run that has left him stalled on 20 games and short of the amount of experience the club anticipated he would have.
The 22-year-old is set to return next season and the Warriors would be thrilled if he could finish his apprenticeship alongside Luke before filling the No 9 jersey in 2020.
Unfortunately for Luke, confirmation this week that former captain Simon Mannering will retire at the end of the season does not improve the club's position under the salary cap.
Mannering was weighing up whether to re-sign for a 15th season, but it's understood he was prepared to take an extreme pay cut and play for a minimal amount.
The Warriors were never stockpiling a large sum to retain the 31-year-old back-rower and his decision to hang the boots up does not leave them with extra cash to splash out on retaining Luke.
Talks between the club and Luke's agent are continuing but the situation remains uncertain.
If a rival club decided they needed a new hooker and made Luke an attractive offer it is unlikely the Warriors would be able to match it.
"If what it takes to get Issac to stay next season is within our reach we will do everything we can to keep him," explained Warriors general manager of football Brian Smith.
"He's keen to stay and we just need to make sure that we can afford him and we've got to comply with the salary cap so it's going to be a bit of a juggling act.
"Issac's management are setting out to find out what his market value is and we've let him and his management know that that's more than fair and reasonable that he does that.
"He's got the opportunity to find out what his market value is and if we can work something out at the back end of the year it would be great."
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