The prospect of Issac Luke leaving the Warriors during the 2019 season is slim – though not completely out of the question.
According to Australian media reports on Friday, Parramatta are considering tabling a lucrative two-year deal for the Kiwis hooker, which would encompass this year.
It would reportedly be in the realm of $750,000 across two years, which is significantly more than the cut-price one-year deal that Luke signed to stay at the Auckland club at the end of last season.
It seems ironic that Parramatta are contemplating such an offer – given their strong reaction to the Dylan Brown saga earlier this week, where the Warriors were indirectly accused of poaching, but it's not the usual scenario.
That's because at the time of negotiating his last contract the Warriors had a handshake agreement that an offer from a rival club would be considered, given the short term nature of Luke's deal.
"We said that if he was to field any kind of offer the agreement with his manager was they would advise us and we would talk about it at the time," said Warriors CEO Cameron George.
"That was put on the table during the negotiation period and we gave him our word we would consider it. It was basically a verbal agreement, that if he was given a great opportunity elsewhere for him and his family, he could bring it forward and discuss it."
George didn't rule out the possibility of Luke being granted a release – if and when the situation arose – but stressed it was only a theoretical scenario.
"It would be a collective decision, with Stephen Kearney, Brian Smith and Peter O'Sulivan," said George. "At the time we said to Bruce Sharrock [Luke's manager] that if an offer came to bring it forward and we will consider our position then and discuss it on its merits."
George added that Luke has impressed everyone at the club with his dedication and focus during the pre-season, as the 31-year-old aims to return for round one following a shoulder operation.
"Issac has been fantastic for the squad," said George.
"He has been training well and enjoying his role within the group."
It remains a hypothetical situation. If Luke gets a staggering offer he would have to consider it, though joining a club like the Eels, in their current state, would appear to be a road to nowhere.
Despite their massive support across Australia and large corporate backing Parramatta have only reached the playoffs once this decade. During that time they have claimed the wooden spoon three times, most recently last year, where they won only six games.
In 2016 the Eels were hit with a fine of A$1 million, and were also stripped of 12 competition points for a salary cap breach. That also resulted in their entire board being sacked and the departures of their football manager and CEO.
The Warriors would also be extremely reluctant to release Luke.
He was one of the players of the season during last year's history making campaign and his experience within the spine will be incredibly important in 2019, especially in the absence of Shaun Johnson.
Much is expected of Nathaniel Roache in his comeback from injury, and if he proves himself (and his fitness) over the first two months of the campaign then that equation may change.
But there is probably room for both players over such an arduous 24-game NRL season.